What are gallstones? Most people have never heard of them before, but if you experience any kind of pain in your upper right abdomen, it’s worth investigating what might be causing it. Gallstones are small, hard deposits that form inside the gallbladder and can cause serious pain. While surgery is sometimes necessary to remove them, there are a few ways you can try to treat gallstones naturally.
What are gallstones and what causes them to form?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that stores bile, which is produced by the liver. Bile helps to digest fat in the intestines. Gallstones can form when there is an imbalance in the components of bile or when the gallbladder doesn’t empty properly.
There are two types of gallstones:
Cholesterol stones: These are made up of cholesterol and bilirubin, and they account for 80 percent of all gallstones.
Pigment stones: These are made up of bilirubin and are usually smaller than cholesterol stones. They can be black or brown in color.
Women are more likely to develop gallstones than men, and the risk increases with age. Other factors that may increase your risk include:
- Diets high in fat and cholesterol
- Certain medications, such as birth control pills or cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Family history of gallstones
- Rapid weight loss
What are the symptoms of gallstones?
The most common symptom of gallstones is pain in the upper right abdomen. This pain can be severe and last for several hours. It is often described as a cramping or burning sensation. The pain may radiate to the back or shoulder.
Other symptoms of gallstones include:
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as an ulcer or gallbladder infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a best stomach doctor so that the cause can be properly diagnosed and treated.
How are gallstones diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may also order one or more of the following tests:
- Blood tests: These can help to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as anemia or liver disease.
- Ultrasound: This imaging test uses sound waves to create a picture of the gallbladder and check for stones.
- CT scan: This imaging test uses X-rays to create a more detailed picture of the gallbladder and check for stones.
- HIDA scan: This nuclear medicine test is used to assess how well the gallbladder is functioning. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein, and then images are taken to see if the gallbladder is contracting normally.
How are gallstones treated?
Treatment for gallstones depends on the severity of symptoms and whether or not Complications have developed. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary if symptoms are mild. If symptoms are more severe, treatment options include:
Surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy)
This is the most common treatment for gallstones. The surgery can be performed laparoscopically, which involves making small incisions in the abdomen and inserting a tiny camera and surgical instruments. Or it can be performed as open surgery, which involves making a larger incision in the abdomen.
If you are experiencing pain from gallstones but do not want to have surgery, your doctor may prescribe medications to help dissolve the stones. These medications must be taken for several months and may not work for everyone.
Shock wave lithotripsy
This non-surgical procedure uses sound waves to break up the stones so that they can pass through the digestive system. It is usually only recommended for people who cannot have surgery.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
This procedure involves passing a small tube through the mouth and into the small intestine. A dye is injected so that the bile ducts can be seen on an X-ray. Stones in the bile duct can then be removed with a basket or other device.
Gallstones can often be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding crash diets or rapid weight loss. If you are at risk for gallstones, your doctor may recommend medications to help prevent them from forming.
Complications after treating gallstones
Few people know that complications can occur after treating gallstones, even if surgery is successful. These complications can include:
- Infection of the wound or incision site
- Bleeding from the surgical site
- Injury to nearby organs such as the liver, pancreas, or small intestine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism)
If you experience any of these complications after treatment for gallstones, be sure to speak with your doctor. Prompt medical attention is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy recovery.
Are there any risks associated with treating gallstones naturally instead of surgically or with medication?“
There are a few risks associated with treating gallstones naturally, such as:
- Herbal remedies may interact with other medications you are taking, so it is important to talk to your doctor before starting any natural treatment.
- Some natural treatments, such as gallbladder flushes, can cause nausea and vomiting.
- There is a small risk of developing an infection or other complications from using certain natural treatments, such as milk thistle or dandelion root.
Overall, the risks of treating gallstones naturally are low compared to the risks of surgery or medication. However, it is important to talk to your best gastroenterologist before starting any natural treatment.
1. What is the main cause of gallstones?
Gallstones occur when bile in the gallbladder solidifies and hardens into a stone-like substance. Gallstones can be caused by an excess of cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin (bile pigment).
2. Can gallstones go away?
Gallstones may dissolve on their own, although they seldom do, and treatment may be necessary. Gallstones may not usually create symptoms, and in those situations, dietary adjustments may be enough to keep issues at bay. People without a gallbladder can live regular lives.
3. What is the fastest way to relieve gallbladder pain?
A warm compress can help with gallbladder health by calming spasms and relieving pressure from bile accumulation. Wet a cloth with warm water and apply it to the afflicted area for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce gallbladder discomfort. You may get the same effect by using a heating pad or a hot water bottle.