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Introduction

Gallstones can lurk inside your gallbladder. Many people have gallstones and never know it. Gallstones are hard deposits in your gallbladder, a small organ that stores bile, which is a digestive fluid made in the liver. Gallstones may consist of cholesterol, salt, or bilirubin, which are discarded red blood cells. Gallstones range in size. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as an apricot

 

What Causes Gallstones?

 

The components in bile can crystallize and harden in your gallbladder, leading to gallstones. According to Medical history 80 percent of gallstones are made of cholesterol. The other 20 percent of gallstones are made of calcium salts and bilirubin. These are known as pigment stones.

 

Cholesterol Stones

 

Gallstones may develop when there is too much cholesterol in the bile secreted by your liver. Bile usually dissolves or breaks down cholesterol. However, if your liver makes more cholesterol than your bile can dissolve, hard stones may develop.

 

Bilirubin

Bilirubin is a chemical produced when your liver destroys old red blood cells. Some conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver and certain blood disorders, cause your liver to produce more bilirubin than it should. Stones form when your gallbladder cannot break down the excess bilirubin. These hard substances are also called pigmented stones.

 

Concentrated Bile

 

Your gallbladder needs to empty bile to be healthy and function properly. If it fails to empty its bile content, the bile becomes overly concentrated, which causes stones to form.

 

Who Is at Risk for Gallstones?

 

While your body produces cholesterol naturally, you can also take in excess cholesterol through your diet. Many risk factors for gallstones are related to diet. These include:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Eating a diet that's high in fat or cholesterol
  • Rapid weight loss within a short period of time
  • Having diabetes mellitus
  • Female
  • Pregnant
  • Having a family history of gallstones

 

What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?

 

You may not experience any symptoms if you have gallstones. According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), 80 percent of people who have gallstones don't have any pain at all. These are called "silent" gallstones. Your doctor may find these stones in your gallbladder on radiological investigation. Some people do have gallstone symptoms. The most common symptom of gallstones is pain in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen. The pain often radiates to your back or right shoulder or shoulder blade.

 

Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • A yellowish tint in your skin or eyes, which can indicate jaundice
  • Fullness of abdomen after having food
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Clay-colored stools

 

What Are the Stages of Gallbladder Disease?

Extreme gallstone pain is known as a "gallbladder attack." This extreme pain lasts more than one to two hours. Gallstones themselves don't cause this pain. It occurs when the gallstones block the movement of bile from the gallbladder. This doesn't usually happen overnight. Instead, there are three stages that lead to the attack. gallstones form in the gallbladder. Usually, there's no pain in this stage. you start to experience gallbladder pain from time to time. You may notice this when you eat foods that are high in fat, such as fried foods. The pain doesn't usually extend past a few hours.

 

Other symptoms can include stomach pain, burping, diarrhea, nausea, and indigestion. In stage 3, a gallstone blocks the duct where bile moves from the gallbladder, a gallbladder attack occurs. This stage is a medical emergency. Symptoms can include intense stomach or back pain, fever, chills, or appetite loss. For every 100 people that have silent gallstones, 10 of those people will have an attack within a decade.

 

Diagnosis

 

How Are Gallstones Diagnosed?

Ultrasound

 

Ultrasound tests produce images of your abdomen. This is the preferred imaging method to initially confirm that you have gallstone disease

 

Abdominal CT Scan

 

This is an imaging test that takes pictures of your liver and abdominal region.

 
Blood Tests

Your doctor may order blood tests that measure the amount of bilirubin in your blood. The tests also help determine how well your liver is functioning.

 

How Are Gallstones Treated?

 

Your doctor may use any of several treatment options to remove stones or improve your condition.

 
Surgery

 

Surgery is often the only option for permanent solution. Your doctor may need to perform a laparoscopic gallbladder removal, which is a common surgery. General anesthesia is usually required for gallbladder removal. The surgeon will usually make three or four 5 mm incisions on your abdomen. Your surgeon will insert a small, lighted device into one of the incisions and carefully remove your gallbladder. You usually go home on the day of the procedure if you have no complications.

 

Prevention

 

You can't prevent gallstones, but you can reduce your risk with lifestyle strategies. Eat a balanced diet. Don't skip meals. Drink sufficient amounts of water each day to keep your body hydrated. If you plan to lose weight, do it slowly. Aim to lose no more than two pounds per week. Rapid weight loss may increase your risk of gallstones and other health problems.

 

What Can I Expect in the Long Term?

 

No significant changes occur after surgery as gall bladder function is to store bile which is secreted from Liver.

 

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