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Biliary Colic


Biliary colic is severe pain in your upper abdomen caused by a gallbladder problem. Your gallbladder stores bile, which helps digest (break down) the fats that you eat. Biliary colic happens when something blocks the duct that moves bile out of the gallbladder.

Gallbladder, Liver, and Pancreas



  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to decrease or take away pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better.
  • Antispasm medicine: This medicine helps your gallbladder stop contracting, which can decrease your pain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Avoid alcohol:

Alcohol can damage your liver and increase your risk for getting biliary colic. Tell your primary healthcare provider if you drink alcohol. Ask for information on how to stop if you need help.


Exercise may help prevent gallstones and biliary colic. Talk with your primary healthcare provider before you start exercising. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger.

Eat healthy foods:

Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and cholesterol may reduce your risk of gallstones. Nuts may also reduce your risk. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Maintain a healthy weight:

If you are overweight, ask your primary healthcare provider how to lose weight slowly and safely. Do not try to lose a lot of weight very quickly. Too much weight lost quickly may also increase your risk of gallstones.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down any questions you have so you remember to ask them in your follow-up visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You feel dizzy or sleepy, or you have a rash.
  • You have nausea and are vomiting.
  • Your urine is dark, or your bowel movements are light gray.
  • Your pain lasts longer than before or happens more often.
  • Your pain does not get better after you take medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your skin or eyes are light yellow.
  • You have trouble staying awake, or you feel like you are going to lose consciousness.
  • You have strong pain in the right side of your abdomen.
  • Your pain suddenly gets worse.
  • You have sudden chest pain.
  • You have shortness of breath or pain when you take a deep breath.
  • You urinate less than usual.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Biliary Colic (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes