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Gallstones, what are the causes and what can you do about it?

  1. Gallstones are stones or lumps that develop in the gallbladder or our bile ducts when certain substances harden there. Certain chemicals in the gallbladder include cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate and calcium carbonate. These can solidify, this can lead to one large stone or several small stones.

  1. Recent research showed that gallstones were increasingly common in adults in industrialized countries. About 10% of all adults in industrialized countries had gallstones, and that number is still increasing.

What are the different parts?

  1. To better understand what gallstones are, we first need some information about the gallbladder and bile ducts.

  1. The gallbladder is a small pouch on the right side of the body, located on the underside of the liver. Bile is a green-brown liquid produced by the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder. Bile travels to the small intestine through the bile ducts to aid digestion. The bile ducts consist of narrow tubes. Bile is especially important for the processing of fats. Every time we eat, some bile is released into the intestines.

  1. When the chemicals in the gallbladder, cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate and calcium carbonate are out of balance, this can cause gallstones to form. There are two different types of gallstones that are common:

What are the symptoms of gallstone complaints?

  1. The majority of people with gallstones have no symptoms at all. This is because the stones generally stay in the gallbladder itself and thus cause no further problems. However, sometimes it is possible that gallstones can lead to cholecystitis (an inflamed gallbladder). The symptoms of gallbladder inflammation are:

  1. Gallstone colic Sometimes it happens that the gallstones travel through the bile ducts towards the duodenum. When this happens it is called gallstone colic, a painful condition. The pain can be felt in the upper part of the abdomen, but can also occur from the center of the abdomen, or to the right of it. [! 155533 => 1140 = 7!] Pain often occurs about an hour after eating, especially if the patient has eaten a high-fat meal. The pain is often constant and will last for a few hours and then just disappear. Some patients have constant pain for 24 hours, while in still others the pain comes in waves.

  2. Gallstone colic Sometimes it happens that the gallstones travel through the bile ducts towards the duodenum. When this happens it is called gallstone colic, a painful condition. The pain can be felt in the upper part of the abdomen, but can also occur from the center of the abdomen, or to the right of it.

  1. Pain often occurs about an hour after eating, especially if the patient has eaten a high-fat meal. The pain is often constant and will last for a few hours and then just disappear. Some patients have constant pain for 24 hours, while in still others the pain comes in waves.

  1. If the gallstones have caused a gallbladder infection, the person may develop a fever and chills. In most cases of a gallstone infection, this means that the person will have to go to the hospital and the gallstone will be surgically removed.

  1. When the gallstone leaves the gallbladder and becomes trapped in the bile ducts, it can block the flow of bile to the intestines. That bile then leaks into the bloodstream and will cause jaundice symptoms in the patient. The skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow. In most cases, this complication will require the surgical removal of the gallstone. However, some patients are lucky and find that the gallstone eventually moves towards the intestines.

  1. When a small gallstone passes through the bile ducts and blocks the pancreatic duct cells and causes fluids and bile to be released into the duct, the patient may develop pancreatitis.

  1. Experts are not yet sure why some people develop a chemical imbalance in their gallbladder that causes gallstones to be produced, especially since many other people are not affected. However, we do know that gallstones are more common in:

  1. How are gallstones diagnosed?

  1. In many cases, gallstones become by chance, especially when the patient is being treated for something else. A doctor may think of gallstones after a cholesterol test, an ultrasound, a blood test, or after an X-ray. Blood tests can be used to identify signs of infection, obstruction, pancreatitis, or jaundice.

  2. In many cases, gallstones become accidental, especially when the patient is being treated for something else. A doctor may think of gallstones after a cholesterol test, an ultrasound, a blood test, or after an X-ray. Blood tests can be used to identify signs of infection, obstruction, pancreatitis, or jaundice.

  1. A dye is injected into the bloodstream to concentrate in the bile ducts and gallbladder. Or it can be injected directly into the bile ducts through an endoscope. This dye can be seen by doctors on X-rays. ERCP is also used to locate and remove stones in the bile duct.

  1. The physician will be able to look at the X-rays and identify possible gallbladder or bile duct disorders such as pancreatitis, cancer of the pancreas, or gallstones. The X-ray shows whether the dye is actually moving to the right place - that is, to the liver, bile ducts, intestines and gallbladder.

  1. If the dye spills over in one of these places, it often means that a gallstone is causing a blockage. This gives experts a better idea of ​​where the gallstone is.

  1. This non-invasive X-ray shows a cross-section of the interior of the human body.

  1. A small amount of harmless radioactive material is injected into the patient. This is absorbed by the gallbladder, which is then stimulated to contract. This test can show abnormal gallbladder contractions or bile duct obstruction.

What is the treatment for gallstones?

  1. Gallstones are normally only treated if they cause an inflammation of the gallbladder, blockage of the bile ducts, or other problems. Patients requiring treatment are often first switched to a low-fat diet.

  1. This is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. This is usually done with minimally invasive surgery - a small incision about the size of a keyhole. However, this keyhole surgery is not possible for about 10% of the patients, they require an open cholecystectomy.

  1. With open cholecystectomy, a large incision is made in the patient's abdomen. Patients undergoing open cholecystectomy should expect longer hospitalization and recovery time. If a patient's gallbladder is severely inflamed, an open cholecystectomy is required.

  1. If the gallstone is made of cholesterol, it can sometimes be slowly dissolved with ursodeoxycholic acid. This treatment can take up to 24 months before the intended result is achieved. This treatment is not as effective as surgery, but sometimes the only choice for patients who cannot have a general anesthetic for health reasons.

  1. In this treatment ultrasonic shock waves are aimed at the gallstones in order to crush them into pieces. Once they are small enough, they can then safely leave the body through urine. This treatment is not often used and really only an option when there are few gallstones present.

How can you prevent gallstones?

  1. We cannot change certain factors that increase the risk of gallstones, such as age, gender and ethnic origin. Although not 100% confirmed, it appears that a vegetarian diet can help reduce the risk of gallstones. Vegetarians have a significantly lower risk of developing gallstones compared to people who eat regular meat.

  1. Many experts say that a diet low in fat and lots of fruits and vegetables, including enough dietary fiber, could help protect people from developing gallstones.

  1. In addition, keeping our body weight in balance could help. In concrete terms, this means that you should not become overweight. However, crash diets and rapid weight loss are also risk factors for the development of gallstones. So people who are overweight and want to lose weight should do so responsibly.

  1. Animal studies have also shown that getting enough exercise can reduce the risk of developing gallstones.

Can We Live Without Our Gallbladder?

  1. Fortunately, we can live without our gallbladder. The liver itself produces enough bile to digest a normal diet. When a person's gallbladder is removed, bile travels from the liver to the small intestine through the liver canals. As a result, it is no longer stored in the gallbladder. A small proportion of patients who have their gallbladder removed have softer and more frequent bowel movements for a period of time because their bile flows more frequently into the small intestine.

  1. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Let me know!



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