Biliary colic Symptoms
Biliary colic is itself a symptom. The word “colic” refers to any type of pain which starts without warning and then stops quickly. Usually, this pain is reoccurring in nature. When colic is in the biliary region, this can lead to strong abdominal pains which can start and stop, often due to what types of movement the patient is doing. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur with the abdominal pain.
Biliary colic Causes
What causes biliary colic? The most common cause is gallstones. Gallstones are essentially different components of bile which have thickened and formed into hard pieces which can block the bile duct. Since bile is stored in the gall bladder, gallstones can form there while the bile sits, waiting to be used by the digestive system. There are various different portions of bile which can form various types of gallstones. Cholesterol can often form the largest gallstones, and it is one of the reasons why a diet high in fat content can cause gall bladder problems.
Gallstones can cause biliary colic by blocking the common bile duct on their way out of the gall bladder. This can result in inflammation of the bile duct tissue, causing pain. This sharp pain can decrease once the gallstone moves. Patients sometimes find that if they move a certain way, pain can increase or decrease, depending on if the gallstone changed position with their movement.
Biliary colic Treatment
Though many people associate gall bladder removal (also known as a cholecystectomy), doctors do not want to remove the gall bladder unless it is absolutely necessary. Removal of the gall bladder is usually something which does not have long-term effects for many patients, but some can have chronic abdominal pain or diarrhea after the procedure. The gall bladder does perform a relatively large function in the digestive system, so it’s absence can cause problems for some patients.
Even though there is a small risk of digestive problems, gall bladder removal surgery is often the best option for some patients suffering from biliary colic as a result of gallstones. There are many patients who lead normal lives after such an operation. Without surgery, the gall bladder can continue to cause intense pain for some patients. If gallstones continue to form, they can continue to block the bile duct and may even lead to an infection. An untreated infection can spread throughout the body and cause serious complications.
Some gallstones can be treated with medication. If tests reveal that the gallstones appear to be mostly made from cholesterol, there is medication which can help dissolve them over time. The problem with this medication is that it can take awhile to work, and biliary colic can keep occurring until the medication takes effect. Also, once the patient stops taking the medicine, gallstones can form again. Medication may be a treatment prescribed by doctors if they detect that gallstones are small in nature.
Limiting fatty foods in a diet is also important for patients who have gallstones. Since fat and cholesterol can increase the frequency of gallstones in many patients, they are often encouraged to eat healthier diets low in fat in order to better manage their biliary colic pain.