by Woods M

Medication for Gallstones

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications only as recommended or prescribed by your doctor. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Prescription Medications
Over-the-Counter Medications

Prescription Medications

Bile Acids
  • Ursodiol (Ursodeoxycholic Acid)
  • Chenodiol (Chenodeoxycholic Acid)
Bile acids are used to dissolve certain types of gallstones. It may take months or years before all the stones dissolve.
Note: Do not take Ursodiol with aluminum-containing antacids, such as AlternaGEL or Maalox Advanced Regular Strength, because the aluminum may interfere with the action of ursodiol.
A possible side effect is mild diarrhea.
Pain Medications
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Ketorolac (Toradol)
These medications are prescription NSAIDs used to relieve pain caused by gallstones.
Possible side effects include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, to control pain
When to Contact Your Doctor
Severe abdominal pain, stomach pain, or severe nausea and vomiting may be a sign that you have another medical problem or that your gallstones require a different treatment.
Special Considerations
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
  • Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.
  • Plan ahead for refills if you need them.
  • Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.
  • Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.

References

Adler DG, Baron TH, et al. ASGE guideline: the role of ERCP in diseases of the biliary tract and the pancreas. Gastrointest Endosc. 2005;62:1-8.
Ahmed A, Cheung RC, et al. Management of gallstones and their complications. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:1673-1678.
Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114033/Gallstones. Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Cholesterol gallstone disease. Lancet. 2006;368:230-239.
Portincasa P, Di Ciaula A, et al. Medicinal treatments of cholesterol gallstones: old, current and new perspectives. Curr Med Chem. 2009;16(12):1531-1542. Review.

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