Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

Originally posted: 18th Dec 2019

Gallstones travel insurance

Getting ready for a trip abroad should also include getting the right kind of travel insurance for any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. With many holiday makers needing to make a claim on their medical travel insurance each year, it pays to be prepared.

If you have gallstones, arranging dedicated gallstones travel insurance will ensure you have the cover you need. Should you experience a fluctuation in your symptoms that requires medical attention, or even surgical intervention, during your holiday, you’ll be able to claim for hospital expenses without adding to the stress of the situation or footing a massive bill.

What are gallstones?

One of the functions of the liver is to produce cholesterol. Having the right amount of cholesterol in the body is important for hormone and vitamin D production. But if the body has too much cholesterol it can lead to health problems.

The gallbladder is a small body organ that supports digestive function, storing and regulating bile from the liver. If the gallbladder fails to maintain the right concentration of bile, cholesterol levels start to rise. As the cholesterol builds up, it forms tiny stones. These stones are called gallstones.

Gallstones are very common, affecting as many as 1 in 10 adults in the UK. They can sometimes go undetected, but when the symptoms become more noticeable, sufferers can be left in a lot of pain and discomfort.  

Depending on the severity and frequency of symptoms, gallstones are typically treated with pain relief medication or surgery to remove the gallbladder, known as a cholecystectomy.

What causes gallstones?

Gallstones are caused by an unhealthy build-up of cholesterol in the body. The liver is designed to break down cholesterol, allowing traces of cholesterol to enter the digestive system to be absorbed to support different functions of the body. 

But, because of modern diets and lifestyles, it can also be placed under extra strain to process surplus cholesterol. When the liver struggles to process this extra cholesterol, it leads to an imbalance of cholesterol in bile content. Raised levels of cholesterol levels in the bile stored in the gallbladder not only contributes to the formation of gallstones but can also lead to other complications in the rest of the body. When an unhealthy level of cholesterol travels throughout the cardiovascular system, it can lead to blockages in arteries, placing people at risk of developing circulatory and heart problems and an increased risk of stroke.

If you’re travelling with gallstones, it’s worth considering the contributing factors to the condition so that you can mindful about what you’re eating while you’re away, and how you would manage any adverse symptoms should your gallstones start to cause problems in an unfamiliar setting.

Symptoms of gallstones

Whilst many people with gallstones may not experience problems day to day, there are times when the symptoms of the condition can flare up unexpectedly.  A gallstone attack could appear as any combination of the following:

  • Individuals with gallstones may experience sudden and severe pain when a gallstone blocks a bile duct in the gallbladder. The pain is often located in the in the upper right abdomen and can last up to five hours until the stone passes through the duct.
  • Gallstones can also lead someone to feel generally unwell, presenting with fever and shivering or nausea and vomiting.
  • In more severe cases, people with gallstones may present with signs of jaundice. Perhaps, the most noticeable of these signs is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • A diagnosis of gallstones may also affect bowel movements and urinary function with evidence of clay coloured stools and passing dark coloured urine.

Foods to avoid when you have gallstones

Because cholesterol levels in the body are influenced by diet, people with gallstones should limit or eliminate certain foods and drinks from their daily intake, especially when they want to relax and enjoy their holiday:

  • To keep cholesterol levels as low as possible, foods high in cholesterol should be avoided. This mean greasy and fatty foods should be avoided. If you’re travelling abroad, swap fatty meats like lamb, beef, or bacon for lean meats and vegetable-based dishes, and opt for low fat milk and cheese compared to full fat dairy products. Foods prepared in saturated fats like deep fried dishes and snacks like crisps or buttery popcorn should also be avoided.
  • Try to increase your fruit and cereal intake. Apples and oats are helpful foods in combatting high levels of cholesterol, as the polyphenols and fibre content help to break it down and promote more efficient liver function.
  • Too much caffeine and large amounts of alcohol are known to stimulate contractions of the gallbladder. These contractions can squeeze large gallstones resulting in pain for the sufferer. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and alcohol are best avoided, and drinking more water is encouraged. Increasing your water intake will help with general liver function, restore bile concentration, and help to flush cholesterol out of the body.

Do gallstones affect travel insurance?

Gallstones are very common and can often present without symptoms, but this can change very quickly and unpredictably, potentially causing problems if you’re caught off-guard on holiday.

If you’ve been diagnosed with gallstones or have had surgery to remove your gallbladder you should still declare this when applying for travel insurance, even if you’re concerned your premium will cost more.

Letting your insurance provider know about the condition of your gallstones will help to ensure you receive the right type of cover. Taking out a specialist travel insurance policy offers you protection if your symptomless gallstones suddenly require medical treatment abroad. If you don’t declare your condition you run the risk of your travel insurance becoming invalid and could face the expense of paying for any treatment you receive should you need medical intervention while you’re away.

What does gallstones travel insurance cover?

Working with over forty leading insurers, Medical Travel Compared can give you easy access to multiple gallstones travel insurance quotes with a single application.

Standard travel insurance policies can vary depending on terms of the insurance provider, but most medical travel insurance will typically include:

  • Emergency Medical Expenses and Repatriation
  • Personal Accident
  • Personal Liability
  • Legal Expenses
  • Travel Delay
  • Lost, stolen, or damaged personal belongings
  • Cancellation
  • Curtailment

Getting a specialist policy for a pre-existing condition like gallstones, means your insurance is extended to cover the health conditions you declare. So if you fall ill because of your condition in another country, you can claim for any expensive hospital or repatriation fees as a result.

You’ll have the opportunity to provide details of any medical conditions by completing our simple medical screen when submitting your travel insurance application. You must declare that you have gallstones or have had gallbladder surgery in the past when buying specialist travel insurance. This will ensure you are properly covered for your condition, so you won’t be facing a huge bill when you return home. 

Compare gallstones travel insurance quotes

Get gallstones travel insurance quotes easily and quickly with Medical Travel Compared. Simply answer a series of multiple choice questions about your health using our online medical screening tool.  Just one application is all it takes to give you the chance to compare a wide range of competitive quotes from travel insurance brokers all over the UK.  

Choose the quote that offers the best value cover for your condition to give you the peace of mind you need to travel in confidence. Trusted and highly recommended by our previous customers compare your quotes now.  Then all you’ll need to do next is get packing. Just don’t forget your toothbrush.

A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now, or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!
It's really simple and quick to do! After you've told us about your trip details and answered some medical history questions you can add your pre-existing conditions, one by one, for each traveller. You'll only need to enter your details once, it's all online and there's no need to call, or provide details of your conditions in writing.
Once you've declared all of your relevant pre-existing medical conditions we'll only show you quotes based on the conditions you have told us about.
No, we are unable to provide cover with any of your pre-existing medical conditions excluded.
You should tell us about the medical condition that required the procedure/operation. We will then ask about any treatments in the follow-up questions if this information is necessary.

*Price is based on 1 traveller aged 61 who has declared gallstones and is travelling to Spain for 7 nights. Price is correct as of December 2019. Prices may vary according to your individual requirements.

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