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Gallstone: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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  • Overview of Gallstones
  • Quick Facts on Gallstones
  • Causes of Gallstones
  • Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones
  • Diagnosis
  • Prevention of Gallstones
  • Complications caused by Gallstones
  • Treatment of Gallstones

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Overview of Gallstones

When the excess cholesterol present in the bile turns into crystals, these are called gallstones. The gallstones prevent the gallbladder from emptying properly. Gallstones can be of different sizes.

The condition in which gallstones are present in the gallbladder is referred to as cholelithiasis and the presence of gallstones in the common bile duct is referred to as choledocholithiasis.

Gallstones can cause the inflammation of the gallbladder, which is known as Cholecystitis. Gallstones often induce unforeseen, acute pain.

Quick Facts on Gallstones

  • Pregnant women are more prone to developing gallstones

  • In some severe and rare cases, gallstones may cause gallbladder cancer

  • Silent gallstones do not cause any pain

  • Obesity is a risk factor for gallstones

Causes of Gallstones

  • Weak digestive system 

  • Diseases like diabetes, sickle cell anemia or cirrhosis

  • High cholesterol diet

  • Excess estrogen

Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones

  • Dark color urine or clay color stools

  • High fever with chills

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Signs of jaundice

  • Nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis

Physical examination, lab tests, and imaging tests are done to diagnose the gallstones. The doctor also asks about your diet to identify the reasons. 

  • Blood tests to check the level of bilirubin to determine the liver functioning.

  • Ultrasound of the abdomen and CT scan to analyze if the gallstones are present.

  • Endoplasmic retrograde cholangiopancreatography  (ERCP) with the help of a small camera down to the gastrointestinal tract. This is done to check for the gallstone obstructing the bile duct.

Prevention of Gallstones

As we all know that prevention is better than cure, we should carefully observe what we eat and get rid of the inactive or sedentary lifestyle. 

Eat high fiber and low-fat diet to keep the chances of formation of gallstones from the excess of cholesterol at bay. Do not completely cut off the fats from your diet, just reduce the intake and consume more healthy fruits and juices. 

Use olive oil for cooking as its consumption lowers the level of cholesterol and prevents gallstones from forming.

Complications caused by Gallstones

  • Gallstones stuck in the bile duct can cause inflammation of the duct

  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)

  • Chances of gallbladder cancer in severe and rare cases

Treatment of Gallstones

Home Remedies of Gallstones

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to maintaining a healthy body. Healthy habits can definitely get you rid of many diseases. Some of the best remedial practices that bring a great improvement in the condition of gallstones are :

  • Yoga-

    Some special yoga practices can help you pass gallstones naturally. Performing yoga regularly improves the management of lipids in the body of the people troubled by diabetes, which is also the main cause of cholesterol gallstones. Thus, yoga keeps the cholesterol level controlled in the body. Making yoga an integral part of your daily routine can do wonders for your health.

  • High Fluid Intake

    - Drinking lots of water and fresh fruit juices such as apple juice can help in softening and easy passing of gallstones out of your body. Be careful while consuming juices if you are suffering from conditions like diabetes, stomach ulcers, hypoglycemia.

  • Nuts are necessary

    -  Rather than having high cholesterol snacks, switch to healthy munching on nuts such as peanuts, walnuts and almonds. Grab a handful of these nuts and ditch unhealthy eating habits.

  • Artichoke-

    Artichoke is to be consumed in steamed, pickled or grilled form. Artichoke is also easily available in the market in the form of supplement pills. It is believed to assist in the proper functioning of the gallbladder and liver. 

  • Milk Thistle-

    Milk thistle is consumed as an oral supplement that helps in preventing and curing liver and gallbladder disorders. Milk thistle reduces blood sugar levels in patients of diabetes. It is highly advised to consult a doctor before you consume this oral supplement.

  • What must be avoided?

    - Avoid eating deep-fried and fatty foods in gallstones as it may aggravate the condition.  The aforementioned foods include pork, bacon, fried chicken, fried potatoes, butter, cheese, etc.  Also, avoid consuming alcohol as it may lead to dehydration and induce acute pain of gallstones.

Homeopathy for Gallstones

In the initial stage of small size gallstones, homeopathic medicine can play a crucial role. In the cases of surgical removal of gallstones, there is no harm in taking homeopathic medicines after the surgery just for a preventive measure.

  • Lycopodium:

    This is one of the most recommended homeopathic remedies that is most effective in gallstones. In the case of patients having gallstones with other problems like high cholesterol, constipation or bloating,  this homeopathic remedy is the best.

  • Calcarea carbonica:

    Genetic factors also contribute to the formation of gallstones. A person with a family history of gallstones is more prone to developing them. Calcarean carbonica is the medicine that helps a lot in such cases of gallstones. It also proves to be effective if the person exhibits signs of anxiety or is obese.

  • Nuxvomica

    : This homeopathic remedy is prescribed in cases where the person consumes a lot of processed and fried foods and experiences problems like heartburn, gastric issues or bloating. 

 Laparoscopic Treatment for Gallstones

If all the remedies fail to serve the purpose of removing gallstones from the body, then the best-suited treatment is the laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In this treatment, a small incision is made through which a tiny video camera and surgical tools are inserted. Laparoscopic treatment is the best-recommended option. It offers faster recovery; only one incision is done and the surgery is minimally invasive. If you want to get rid of gallstones, then reach out to your nearest specialist doctor this advanced treatment. The laparoscopic treatment is minimally invasive, causes no bleeding and there are no big cuts or incisions involved in the treatment. There are no chances of risks after the surgery if the patient follows the instructions given by the doctor for fast and complete healing.

Frequently asked Questions

How to identify the pain caused by Gallstones?

Gallstones usually cause an unforeseen intense pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. Sometimes, gallstones also cause sudden pain in the middle of the abdomen, slightly below the breast bone.

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Where do we find Gallstones?

The gallbladder is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen, just under the liver. Gallstones are formed when the excess bile turns into crystals in the gallbladder. Gallstones may cause sudden, acute pain. Whenever such a pain arises, get in touch with a doctor immediately.

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Can I live without a gallbladder?

You can live a normal life without a gallbladder. Your liver makes enough bile to digest the food you eat. Initially, you have to take some precautions about your diet.

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Can I get rid of gallstones naturally?

You may be able to relieve your symptoms of gallstones such as pain in the abdomen, nausea, shivering, and vomiting. You can get relief from these symptoms naturally but not get rid of them.

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Can you pass gallstones on your own?

Gallstones, which are small in size can pass on their own. If the stones are small, then they may exit the gallbladder and can pass through the bile ducts into the intestine and they are excreted in your stool. When the gallstones get stuck in the gallbladder or in the bile ducts then they can cause pain and infections.

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Is it possible to treat the gallstones at home?

There are a lot of common treatments for gallstones. However, gallbladder cleansing is crucially important for it to work well. It breaks down the gallstones in bits, flushes the same out of the body. A patient can try consuming a blend of apple juice, herbs, and olive oil for a couple of days.

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What happens to gallstones if they are left untreated?

If gallstones are left untreated, they can become inflamed and lead to inflammation among other major complications. It may start forming pus inside the gallbladder, the organ could die, or the inflammation may spread to other neighboring organs.

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What do you expect after gallbladder removal surgery?

Usually, after laparoscopic surgery, people return to the normal routine after 48 hours. Avoid strenuous activities and follow post-surgery instructions for a quick and speedy recovery.

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