What are GallStones?

What are GallStones?

The hard particles that are formed inside the gallbladder are known as gallstones. The gallbladder is located just below the liver in between the hips and the chest and is a pear-shaped, small organ.

The size of gallstones can range from a small sand grain to a golf ball and at one time, hundreds of gallstones or even a single large stone can be formed in the gallbladder.

The sizes can be anywhere in between small and large. Gallstones lead to sudden pain within the upper side of the right abdomen and this pain is known as biliary colic gallbladder attack. This attack usually occurs when the gallstones block the biliary tract ducts.


Symptoms of Gallstones

Surprisingly, many people are hardly troubled by any symptoms even if they are carrying gallstones in their gallbladder. Such gallstones that do not lead to any symptoms are known as silent or asymptomatic gallstones. These types of gallstones do not cause any interference in the working of the pancreas, liver or gallbladder.

When the gallstones block the bile ducts, pressure within the gallbladder increases leading to gallbladder attack. The pain can last anywhere in between one to few hours and these attacks usually follow heavy meals.

More often people suffer from gallbladder attacks during the night or in the evening hours. When the gallstones move and the blockage is removed the gallbladder attacks stop automatically. However, complications can occur if the bile ducts remain blocked for more than few hours damaging the liver, gallbladder or the bile ducts.

Risk factors

People who are more at risk of developing this problem include:

  • Women with higher cholesterol levels
  • Adults above 40 years
  • People with family history of gallstone problem
  • American Indians
  • Mexican Americans

Other factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Diet low in fiber
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Certain types of Intestinal Diseases
  • Insulin resistance
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome

Do Gallstones Cause Gallbladder Cancer?

People with gallstones are at higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer. Approximately three out of four people with gallbladder cancer suffer from gallstones. However, gallbladder cancer is very rare and gallstones are very much common so mostly people do not develop this type of cancer despite having the stones.

How is it Treated?

In the absence of symptoms, no treatment is prescribed. If the person suffers from attack of gallbladder or other painful symptoms, the gastroenterologist can recommend certain medications and surgery. Nonsurgical treatments include ERCP or dissolving cholesterol gallstones.

Diet for Gallstone Patients

Losing weight by making changes to your diet can help a lot. Avoiding foods with high cholesterol and fat is recommended. Health experts recommend avoiding the following foods:

  • Sausages
  • Fatty meat cuts
  • Meat pies
  • Biscuits and cakes
  • Lard and butter

Instead, you must include plenty of vegetables, wholegrains and fruits in your daily diet to improve digestion and reduce the risk of developing it. Adequate intake of fiber is also must.

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