Gallstones are stones that form in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Gallstones are associated with gender, obesity, pregnancy, hormonal therapy and weight loss.
Gallstones are stones that form in the bile within the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ just below the liver that stores bile secreted by the liver. Gallstones usually form in the gallbladder; however, they also may form anywhere there is bile; in the intrahepatic, hepatic, common bile, and cystic ducts. Gallstones also may move about in the bile, for example, from the gallbladder into the cystic or the common duct.
There are different types of gallstones, such as:
- Black pigment gallstones
- Brown pigment gallstones
The majority of people with gallstones have no signs or symptoms and are unaware of their gallstones The gallstones often are found as a result of tests performed while evaluating medical conditions other than gallstones.
The most common symptom of gallstones is biliary colic. Characteristically, biliary colic comes on suddenly or builds rapidly to a peak over a few minutes.
- It is a constant pain
- It lasts for 15 minutes to 4-5 hours.
- The pain usually is severe, but movement does not make the pain worse.
- Biliary colic often is accompanied by nausea.
- Biliary colic is felt in the middle of the upper abdomen just below the sternum.
- The second most common location for pain is the right upper abdomen just below the margin of the ribs.
- Occasionally, the pain also may be felt in the back at the lower tip of the scapula on the right side.
- On rare occasions, the pain may be felt beneath the sternum and is mistaken for angina or a heart attack.
- An episode of biliary colic subsides gradually once the gallstone shifts within the duct
What are the complications of gallstones?
Biliary colic is the most common symptom of gallstones, but, fortunately, it is usually a self-limiting symptom. There are, however, more serious complications of gallstones such as:
Cholecystitis, Cholangitis, Gangrene, Jaundice, Pancreatitis, Sepsis, Fistula, Ileus and cancer.
It is possible to dissolve some cholesterol gallstones with medication taken orally.
Fortunately, gallstones can be treated and prevented. Prevention methods include; implementing a healthy and balanced diet and by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Healthy living is better living!