The liver produces bile which is used by our body to break down fats which results in the easy assimilation of fats in the body. Gallbladder stones or gallstones are formed when the bile accumulates and crystalizes. Bile acids are composed of bilirubin, biliverdin, water, slats proteins, cholesterol and copper. A precise composition of the above mentioned elements form the bile acid however if there is an imbalance and an increase in any one of the components it can lead to gall bladder stones.
Am I prone to Gallbladder stones? Gallbladder stones can be found in almost 10 percent of the population. However it is not an issue until it enters one of the ducts. Women are more prone to gallstones especially during the stage of pregnancy. Obesity is also recognized as a reason for gallbladder stones. Rapid shift in weight where people follow fad diets and rapidly gain or lose weight is also a major reason for gallbladder stones.
People who suffer from diabetes and old people also face a high risk of gallbladder stones. Basically if there is a huge change in the way your body function you can be at risk of gallbladder stones as they are caused when there is a deviation in the composition of bile acids.
How will I know I have Gallbladder stones?
There does not exist a check list of symptoms which will let you know if you have gallbladder stones. Do keep in mind that gall bladder stones are present in large percentage of the population however it is the size of these stones which is a matter of concern.
Some of the symptoms which could point to the presence of gall bladder stones are:
Stomach ache which is persistent and gets worse with time. Anti-acid will not help reduce the size of the stones
Nausea and vomiting
Trouble digesting food and swelling of the abdomen.
Can they be diagnosed?
CT- Scans and blood tests are the first line of diagnosis used to ascertain if a patient is suffering from gall bladder stones. ERCP is also used to confirm the presence of gall bladder stones. The blood and urine tests help the doctor pin point the presence of abnormal amount of compounds in the blood and urine. While a CT scan helps them pin point the presence and size of gall bladder stones.
How can I get rid of these stones from my body?
Gall bladder stones can be eliminated and treated with help of medicines if they are small. These medicines contain bile acids which will help dissolve the stones. However for gall bladder stones which are significant in size you might need surgery or laser treatment.
Lithotripsy is a medical procedure where shockwaves is used to break the stones in to smaller pieces. The pieces are then removed through ERCP. The last resort would be to remove the gall bladder altogether through surgery. However it is recommended to try other form of treatment before opting for surgery.