What is Gallstones?
The gallbladder(organ) major function is to store and release bile which is a fluid that helps in the digestion of food. It is an organ present under the liver. It also helps to carry waste material like bilirubin and cholesterol. These lead to the formation of gallstones in the gallbladder which are pieces of solid material. The types of gallstones found are pigment stones and Cholesterol stones. These gall stones can be of any size from small to big but when it starts to block the bile duct then it can lead to symptoms.
Most of the people who have gallstones show no symptoms at all as they stay in the gallbladder without causing any problems. But in some cases, these gallstones get inflamed and lead to cholecystitis. Symptoms include:
- Sudden pain which comes on quickly and worsens.
- Pain on the right side of the body or right shoulder.
- Right shoulder blades start to ache accompanied by back pain.
- Excessive sweating
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Vomiting and nausea
- Abdominal pain and indigestion
- Dark urine and/or clay-colored stools
- Excessive burping
If you have an inflammation then the person will have fever, chills, belly pain that lasts many hours, yellow skin, or yellowing of the eyes. See a gastroenterologist if you have these signs as it is a serious infection that needs immediate attention.
Who is at Risk?
It is still not known why some people develop gallstones while others do not. Some of the gallstones risk factors are:
- Women with a bulging midriff have a high chance of gallstones.
- People who are obese or have lost too much weight recently
- Pregnant women
- Women who have undergone estrogen therapy or HRT during menopause.
- People with a family history of gallstones have a high risk of developing it.
- People who lead a sedentary lifestyle
- Women who take oral contraceptives
- People over the age of 60 years
- People who consume a high-fat diet
- People who lose and gain weight have a high likelihood of having gallstones later in their life.
- People with diabetes
- Ethnic groups like Native American Indians are at risk of gallstones.
Doctors are not sure of the exact cause but some of the reasons for gallstones can be the following:
- Bile has a lot of cholesterol accumulation. The bile juice is responsible for digestion and also helps in dissolving cholesterol. When it is unable to do that, the extra cholesterol forms stones.
- Bile has too much bilirubin due to infections, blood disorders, or cirrhosis. When the gallbladder can’t break down the bilirubin it leads to the formation of Pigment gallstones.
- The gallbladder is unable to empty all the contents and makes the bile very concentrated resulting in stones.
How Are Gallstones Diagnosed?
The gallstones doctor starts off with a physical examination by checking the skin and eyes for color changes and some tests also, they are:
- CT scan: The abdominal region and liver images are taken.
- Ultrasound: It is done to confirm the gallstones diagnosis and also to know about the abnormalities of cholecystitis.
- Radionuclide scan: It shows if there is any blockage or infection of the bile duct due to the gallstones.
- Blood tests: It helps to know the level of bilirubin in the blood and also the liver functioning.
- ERCP: This is a gallstones test where a camera is used to look at the bile and pancreatic ducts and look for blockages.
- Endoscopic ultrasound: This is a test for gallstones that is a combination of endoscopy and ultrasound.
How Are Gallstones Treated?
If there are no symptoms there is no need for a gallstones treatment as it passes through the body on its own. If gallstones have to be removed, one of the following procedures can be performed:
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: One of the most common treatments for gallstones cure is a laparoscopy. A camera is introduced into the stomach by doing a small cut. The light and camera of the laparoscope help in removing the gallstones.
- Open cholecystectomy: Bigger cuts are made to remove the gallbladder and gallstones removed. If it is in the bile duct then an ERCP is used to remove it during the surgery.
- Medication: If the doctor finds that surgery is not necessary they provide medicine for gallstones to dissolve it and help to throw them out of the body.
If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms call our gastroenterologist at Cure.fit and book an online or offline appointment.
How can Gallstones be Prevented?
The following tips help in the prevention of gallstones:
- Consume a diet that is rich in fiber as that makes bowel movements easy and loose.
- Consume enough water so that it helps digestion.
- Reduce intake of high-fat or fried foods.
- Instead of taking 3 heavy meals, consume smaller meals spreading it throughout the day.
- If you plan to lose weight, lose it slowly as a rapid increase or decrease can cause gallstones.
- Ensure that you maintain optimal body weight as obesity can cause gallstones.