Gallstones: Causes, Risk, Treatment & Diet
Let’s start with Gallbladder! Well, Gallbladder is an important organ in our body which assist the digestive process by collecting bile and discharging it in the small intestine when food enters. Gallstones or simply known as Stones in Gallbladder are small pieces of solid material formed inside the gallbladder.
Types of Gallstones:
There are the following two types of Stones in Gallbladder:
- Cholesterol Stones: Generally yellow and green in colour, almost 80% of stones in the gallbladder are cholesterol stones.
- Pigment Stones: They are smaller and darker than cholesterol stones. These stones in Gallbladder are not found so commonly.
What Are the Causes of Stones in Gallbladder?
There are many reasons for gallstones which differ from person to person. I have mentioned some of them below:
- Bile contains an excess of cholesterol. Usually, bile holds enough chemicals to dissolve cholesterol excreted by the liver. But, if, for any reason, liver excretes extra cholesterol than what your bile can dissolve, then that extra cholesterol first becomes crystal and then stones.
- If gallbladder doesn’t empty properly, then there are chances of formation of gallstones.
- Diseases like cirrhosis, biliary tract infections, and certain blood disorders cases Gallstones in which bile contains a surplus of Bilirubin. It can lead to the formation of Pigment Stones.
What Are Risk Factors for Gallstones?
Apart from the causes above, there are other risk factors for gallstones. They are:
1. Genetics: There are more chances for stones in the gallbladder of the people whose ancestors have had the same disease.
2. Obesity: Obesity leads to rise in cholesterol levels in the body and also sometimes interferes in gallbladder function for emptying it completely.
3. Women: Generally pregnant women who take birth control pills have a high level of oestrogens which increases cholesterol in the body and ultimately leads to the formation of stones in the gallbladder.
4. Age: This disease is very common in old age people.
What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?
Stones in Gallbladder are known as silent stones as they often don’t cause any symptoms. A person gets to know about gallstones generally when he gets himself examined for any other diseases. Still, there are some symptoms like:
- Severe pain occasionally in upper back and upper abdomen
- Gastrointestinal problems like indigestion, heartburn and bloating
What Are the Treatments for Gallstones?
Traditional gallstones treatment generally comprised of taking out gallbladder via surgery known as open cholecystectomy but the newer procedure known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy is more often used these days.
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: A surgeon looks inside of the body through a camera passed inside the body via several tiny cuts in the abdomen. It is majorly used in gallbladder removals after which a patient stays at the hospital for few days.
- Open Cholecystectomy: It is a more intensive procedure in which a doctor takes out the whole gallbladder via a single big cut in the abdomen. But it is now less preferred treatment.
There is no issue in the body if a surgeon removed the gallbladder from one’s body because humans can live without it. The only thing to take care is that one must avoid certain food items after gallbladder removal.
What Should Be the Diet After You Have a Gallstone Surgery?
Once your gallstone surgery is over, you have to mainly intake liquids like broth and gelatine, and then slowly transit to solid food items when you start feeling better. Your gallbladder used to break-down fats from your body, but now when it is removed, you have to take care to not to consume fatty foods, else you may experience bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
Below are some food items you need to avoid if you have had gallstones:
- Fried foods like potato chips and French fries etc.
- Dairy products with high fat like cream, whole milk, cheese etc.
- Junk foods like Pizzas, burgers etc.
- Food with extra butter and cheese.
- Chocolates and sauces.
- High fibre foods like Cereals, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Legumes etc.
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You can have a severe pain due to Gallstones, and this may affect your mind and body badly. If you feel low and unhappy, it may be the sign of depression. Check out our post on Depression Awareness: Signs, Causes, Types & Treatments to overcome such situations.