How Gallstones Are Formed And What Are Treatments Available?
There are several stomach related problems and one of the common ones that affect millions of patients worldwide is the gallbladder stones. Gallbladder, the muscular sac attached to the liver performs various tasks in our body.
It stores bile or digestive juice and absorbs fats in the duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine). But when it starts creating small stones, it gives room to various digestive problems and pain in various parts of the body.
How are gallbladder stones formed?
As the bile which is produced by the liver, comes into the gallbladder, the water separates from the bile and the bile becomes concentrated in the gallbladder. There is no specific underlying cause as to how gallstones are formed but according to some researches, 80-90 percent of the gallstones are formed due to cholesterol build-up in the gallbladder.
It occurs when the liver starts secreting bile that abnormally saturated with cholesterol. The excess of cholesterol then crystallizes and take shape of stones which are then stored in the gallbladder or in the cystic duct.
Gallstones can also form following the low level of bile acids and bile lecithin.
Who Is At Risk for getting Gallstones?
Gallstones mostly occur in women due to multiple pregnancies (as bile contain more cholesterol in pregnancy) and obesity. But man can also develop gallstones.
Symptoms of Gallstones
Most of the people with gallstones do not realize until the sudden occurrence of pain and digestive problems. In some individuals, gallstones are very large and cause severe complications. The affected person feels severe pain in the upper abdomen that increases with the passage of time lasting for several hours.
Pain can occur in the back and under the right shoulder. Gallstones can also cause nausea or vomiting. Other symptoms include abdominal bloating, gas, belching, indigestion while some serious symptoms such as sweating, yellowish color of the skin, clay-colored stools require immediate medical assistance.
As mentioned, many people might not feel any symptoms of gallstones. These are called ‘silent stones’ and does not interfere in the gallbladder and even do not require treatment.
Treatment Available for Gallstones
Until a few years back, the only treatment for gallbladder stones was to surgically remove the gallbladder known as cholecystectomy and require about 6 weeks of recovery. But with the advancement of medical science, today laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the most common surgical treatment and requires only a tiny incision. In laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a patient is discharged within a couple of days and recovers quickly.
There are other alternative treatments available in which gallbladder is not removed and rather gallstones are dissolved through various means.
The gallstones can also be fragmented via shock wave lithotripsy combined with bile acid dissolution. As these treatments do not remove the gallbladder, the risk of gallstone occurring again is high.
Can we prevent gallstone build-up?
Yes, gallstones formation can be prevented by a change in dietary habits. By consuming both soluble and insoluble fiber food is a good idea to keep gallstone at bay.
According to a research conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, drinking coffee can reduce the chances of gallstones build-up by 40 percent. Some other study suggests vigorous exercising might reduce the risk of gallstones.
If you suspect any of the symptoms, don’t take it lightly and consult your doctor for assistance.