What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are a kind of hard particles which form in Pear Shaped Gall Bladder. Gall Bladder is pouch type small organ located in the upper right abdomen below the liver . This pouch stores the green-yellow liquid called ‘bile’ which helps digestion. Gallstones are formed when bile contains too much cholesterol or imbalance in substances that make bile. Size of gallstones may vary from a grain to golf ball, from single stone to multiple. It causes a sudden pain (Gallbladder attack or biliary colic) in the upper right abdomen when gallstones block the ducts of the biliary tract.
What is the Biliary Tract?
The biliary systems comprise Gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas . As we know, the liver produces bile - a thick fluid which helps the body to discharge waste & toxins and also helps to digest minerals & vitamins such as A, D, E & K. Bile Ducts includes Hepatic ducts, common bile duct, pancreatic duct, cystic duct. All these dust have separate operating and working system while regulating digestive function.
Types of Gallstones:-
Gallstones generally occur when Bile carries excessive cholesterol, excessive bilirubin and less amount of Bile salts. Actual reasons have not yet been found by the researchers but it is assumed to occur when the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough. Two types of gallstones are recognized as:-
- Cholesterol Stones which is yellow-green in color and occurred due to high cholesterol
Pigment Stones which is dark in color and raised due to excessive bilirubin
Causes & Risk Factors for Gallstones?
1. For Cholesterol Stones:-
Gallstones are generally found in women in comparison to men. Women can have extra estrogen because of pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and contraceptive pills which leads to increase the cholesterol in bile causing gallstones. Let us study in the details the actual factors which are to be considered for Gallstones:-
- People having the age of 40 and more are more likely to have gallstones as compared to younger ones.
- Genetic factors in American Indians and family History do increase the higher risk.
- Obesity is the major cause of stone formation as it leads to excessive cholesterol, especially in women.
- During rapid weight loss and fasting, liver withdraws extra cholesterol into bile and also prevents to employ the gallbladder completely.
- Low-Calorie Diets and Bariatric Surgery limits the food intake. Likewise, high-calorie diets which are rich carbohydrates & low in finer also increase the risk of gallstones
- Intestinal Diseases affects normal absorption of nutrients (like Crohn's disease).
Metabolic Syndrome linked to overweight or obesity which puts the people into the risk of type 2 diabetes & heart disease. Collectively, Insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are known risk factors of gallstones.
2. For Pigment Stones:-
As we read, Pigment stones raise due to excessive bilirubin and tend to grow in people who have :
- Cirrhosis when liver suffers from malfunctions slow functions due to chronic injury
- Infections in Bile ducts
Severe Hemolytic Anemias wherein red blood cells are continuously broken down.
Symptoms & Complications Involved with Gallstones:-
Gallstones which do not have any symptoms are called Asymptomatic or Silent gallstones and they do not affect the functioning of gallbladder, liver or pancreas. In case of the gallbladder attack, pain may occur and may last for several hours. the gallbladder attack may stop only when gallstones move or no longer obstructing bile ducts. If attack continues for more than 1 hours, it may create serious complications & Symptoms like:-
- Infection or damage of gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver
- Pain (may last for long hours)
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Jaundice (yellowish skin or white eyes)
- Pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas
- Fever or chills
Tea Coloured urine or light-colored stools
Whenever a patient faces such symptoms , he should immediately See to a Gallbladder Specialist Doctor or Surgeon to consult about gallstones.
Diagnosis of Gallstones:-
Two ways of diagnosis are adopted:-
Your trusted health partner will advise you to go for the Ultrasound as it safe, pain-free and easy to detect gallstones. For the clear picture, other imaging tests may also be used.