What are Gallstones?
As the name suggests, gallstones are hard deposits (stones) that may form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pouch-like an organ that stores digestive juices such as bile that aids in digestion.
Depending on the cause, gallstones can be broadly divided into two types: –
- Cholesterol gallstones; made of high levels of cholesterol in the bile.
- Pigment gallstones; made of calcium salts and excess bilirubin
Symptoms of Gallstones
The gallbladder is an organ located below the liver in the upper right abdomen. Hence, the formation of gallstones can cause pain in the upper right abdomen area. The pain is not constant but can be felt at times when you eat deep fried items and food rich in fat. Symptoms of gallstones are known as biliary colic. Some common symptoms are as follows: –
- Discomfort in the stomach causing a sensation of vomiting or even vomiting at times.
- Stomach ache while eating high-fat foods
- Darker urine than usual
- Dark colored stool
- Excess burping than normal
- Indigestion and diarrhoea
If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms more than usual, it is better to consult a doctor. A physical examination may be performed by your doctor to diagnose the condition. A change in the color of eyes and skin from normal to a yellowish tint may depict excess bilirubin.
Some common tests of diagnosis include:
- Ultrasound of the abdomen area.
- Abdominal CT scan for imaging test of liver and abdomen
- Radionuclide scan to detect infection or presence of stones in the liver or gallbladder.
- Blood tests to measure the level of bilirubin in the blood.
- ERCP test to know the problems in bile and pancreatic ducts using a surgical camera and X-rays.
Treatments for Gallstones
Gallstones don’t always require a surgery for its treatment. The severity of the condition helps to decide the right treatment method. Following are the treatment options for gallstones: –
Home Remedies for Gallstones
A mild gallstone can be cured with some natural remedies like: –
- Gallbladder flush which means cleansing of the organ. The process involves fasting and then consuming olive oil, sunflower oil or lemon juice to help pass gallstones.
- Maintaining a healthy weight by having a balanced diet and including physical exercises in your daily routine.
- Supplements on the advice of a doctor.
- Milk thistle to treat disorders in liver and gallbladder.
- Gold coin grass is a Chinese herb used to soften the gallstones to facilitate it flushing out.
Medication treatments are decreasing with the development of technologies that offer painless and safe surgery options with better results. However, medications may involve;
- Bile acids such as ursodeoxycholic acid and chenodeoxycholic acid to dissolve gallstones formed by cholesterol.
- Shockwave lithotripsy is a therapy in which shock waves break gallstones into pieces.
A laparoscopic gallbladder removal is a recommended surgical treatment for gallstones. As a person can survive without a gallbladder. The surgery involves removal of the gallbladder and rerouting the bile to the small intestine making it less concentrated.
Also Read: Natural Gallstone Removal Without Surgery