Hospitals in India are seeing an increase in the footfall for curing gallstones in patients. Gallstones are defined as stones that develop in the gallbladder due to a chemical imbalance in the bile. The bile is a juice which helps in the process of digestion. Gallstones are of two types-
- Symptomatic gallstones- These shows symptoms in a person and requires immediate surgery
- Asymptomatic gallstones- These don’t show any symptoms and do not require immediate surgery
The bile is mainly composed of water, bile salts and fats(including cholesterol). So when there is a change in the concentration of any of them, gallstones can develop. You should know about the causes of gallstones so that you are able to figure out if you are at risk or not.
- Weight. If you are overweight or obese, then you are at a higher risk of developing gallstones
- Skipping meals. If you think skipping meals is going to help reduce weight, then you are one step closer to developing gallstones. Skipping out meals increases the risk of gallstones.
- Age. People who are over 60 years are more prone to developing gallstones.
- Pregnancy. The secretion of estrogen during pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control pills increases cholesterol level.
- Genetic. If your family has a history of suffering from gallstones, then you are more likely to have gallstones.
Prevalence Of Gallstones In India-
Studies show that North India has one of the highest numbers of reported incidence of gallstone cancer in the world. The main reasons being the development of gallstones, obesity, multiple childbirths, and chronic infections.
Cosmopolitan cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore are witnessing an extensive change in terms of lifestyle. The lifestyle largely includes prolonged hours of sitting at the desk in air-conditioned offices on weekdays. While on the weekend, people usually just go out to fancy restaurants with their family and consume a high-calorie meal. This has given rise to several chronic diseases including gallstones. But an interesting fact you should know that the percentage of North Indians suffering from gallstones is more than that of South Indians. The main reasons for this difference are dietary differences or genetic factors.
In India, you will be surprised to know that in the northern and northeastern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, and Assam gallstones are most prevalent. Another interesting fact to note is that women in India are twice at a higher risk of suffering from gallbladder cancer than men. Gallstones that show symptoms, known as symptomatic gallstones, is three times more prevalent in both men and women than gallstones which show absolutely no symptoms.
The major reasons which contribute to development in the gallstones are-
- Drinking unprotected water from wells, ponds, and rivers
- High level of heavy metals pollutants in the water
- Increased level of pesticides such as DDT in the soil
If you leave your gallstones untreated for very long, then you are bringing in more health complications. Some of them are discussed below-
- Pancreas inflammation
- Gallbladder cancer
This is simply an inflammation of the gallbladder when the stones block the duct. 1-3% of gallstone patients are prone to developing this complication.
If you are skeptical of going under-the-knife, then you can opt for other treatment which doesn’t involve surgery-
- Dissolution- Gallstones are dissolved using a chemical. This takes up to two years to cure gallstones.
- Lithotripsy- The stones are broken using ultrasonic shock waves. The broken stones can then pass safely in the stools.
- Endoscopy and fluoroscopy- A fiber-optic camera, also known as an endoscope, will be inserted through your mouth and then the bile duct is widened with the help of an electrically heated wire, then the stones are removed.
If you are suffering from gallstones and having immense pain, then the doctor recommends the removal of the gallbladder. The surgical procedure of taking out the gallbladder is known as a cholecystectomy.
Cholecystectomy can be done using two surgeries- open surgery or laparoscopy. In open cholecystectomy, a large incision of 12-15 inches is made in the abdomen. People undergoing open surgery require a longer hospital stay and recovery time.
With a laparoscopic procedure, a small incision is made through which a small laparoscope is inserted to help the doctor to see inside.
If you are having pain in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen or there is a loss of appetite, then it is recommended to visit a doctor without wasting any time. These are some of the most common symptoms of gallstones. It is better to eat a high-fiber diet and drink fluids as much as you can. You can contact us to know more about gallstones and its treatment.