Gallbladder pain, which occurs in the right upper part of the abdomen, can be mild to severe. While gallstones are a common cause, you should see your doctor to rule out other issues. For mild pain, over-the-counter pain medication can offer the most immediate relief. In the long-term, dietary changes can lower your risk for gallstone flare-ups. For severe pain or for pain accompanied by fever or jaundice, seek immediate medical attention.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as directed. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, is usually the best, most immediate way to control pain. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage, so make sure your pain isn’t related to your liver before taking it.
You should only take an NSAID, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, in consultation with your doctor. These medications can upset your stomach, which could end up worsening your gallbladder pain.
If over-the-counter medications aren’t effective, your doctor might prescribe an antispasmodic drug, which relaxes the gallbladder.
Take any medication as directed by your doctor or according to the label’s instructions.
Apply a warm compress to the affected area. For immediate relief, wrap a hot water bottle, heating pad, or store-bought warm compress in a cloth. Apply it to your upper right abdomen, and keep it in place for 20 to 30 minutes.
Stand up and try to walk around after using the warm compress. Apply it every 2 to 3 hours during a flare-up.
Try applying a castor oil warm compress. To make a castor oil compress, soak a clean cloth in pure castor oil, apply it to the affected area, then cover it with plastic wrap. Hold the warm compress over the plastic for 30 minutes to relieve pain and inflammation.
Use a warm castor oil application once a day for 3 days.
Make a turmeric tea. You could slice a 2 in (5.1 cm) piece of turmeric root, and boil the slices in a pot of water to make a tea. Alternatively, you could take a 1000 to 2500 mg turmeric tablet daily. Among other medical conditions, turmeric is used to relieve gallbladder issues.
While it’s generally safe, you should still consult your doctor before trying turmeric tea or a turmeric supplement in tablet form.
Turmeric and other herbs may rapidly empty the gallbladder. While this increased bile flow might help relieve pain, it could lead to a bile duct blockage or other complications. Check with your doctor to stay on the safe side.
Ask your doctor before trying herbs, supplements, and cleanses. There are a number of home remedies for gallbladder pain, but most aren’t backed by scientific evidence. Furthermore, some herbs and supplements can aggravate gallbladder disease, worsen other medical conditions, and interact with medications.
Milk thistle, peppermint, chicory, and other herbs purportedly relieve pain related to gallstones. However, they might also cause bile duct blockages and other complications.
You might have heard that apple cider vinegar and olive oil cleanses benefit the gallbladder, but these claims are unsupported. Additionally, replacing solid meals with liquid cleanses can actually worsen gallstones.
Some people drink salt water to cleanse their digestive system, but this is not safe and should be avoided.
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Relieve related digestive issues with betaine hydrochloride. While supplemental hydrochloride doesn’t directly affect the gallbladder, it can help improve digestion and relieve related symptoms such as bloating, belching, and nausea. A standard dose is at least 600 mg of betaine hydrochloride with every meal.
You can find over-the-counter betaine hydrochloride online or at your local pharmacy.
Ask your doctor if supplemental hydrochloride is right for you. Don’t take it if you have a history of heartburn, acid reflux, gastritis, or stomach ulcers. Stop using it if you feel a burning sensation in your stomach.