When Gallbladders Attack

It starts as a faint feeling of discomfort in my abdomen, a deep ache or tightness, and then begins to spread. At the outset, I’ve mistaken it for hunger, but as it progresses, the pain increases. It becomes very clear what is happening. My gallbladder is malfunctioning. The ducts from the gallbladder are blocked, and the pain will soon become quite unbearable.

The most common symptom of biliary sludge — when it causes symptoms — is pain in the abdomen often associated with nausea and vomiting. This occurs when the particles obstruct the ducts leading from the gallbladder to the intestine.

Now, it’s not the worst pain I’ve felt in my life. I can certainly imagine pains that are deeper and more acute. However, it’s a very frustrating pain. My first few attacks, I didn’t even know what it was. I thought it was food poisoning. The nausea that accompanied it made me feel like vomiting might help, but it never did.

I tried a variety of products to lessen the symptoms. Alka Seltzer seemed to be the only one that had any effect.

When I finally talked to a doctor about it, he suggested that a pain reliever like Advil might help. “Take a few Advil when you feel the pain coming on.” So that is what I do now. When that pain starts to come on, I take a few Advil and/or some Alka Seltzer and lie down. Surprisingly it does the trick.

Now these attacks are infrequent. I had several last fall, but I think I’ve only had two this year. The hypothesis that I’m currently working under is that starches in my diet aggravate it. The first few attacks I had were after large meals with lots of rice. I also noticed that the lignans that accompany flax seed oil also irritate it, as do ground flax seeds themselves (the oil without lignans seems to be fine).

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