Gall Stones
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Lumps of solid material forming in the gall bladder are called Gallstones. They have small sizes, usually size of a pea, but at times they can reach the size of a pebble too. These gallstones are usually found in the gall bladder or the bile duct connecting the gall bladder to the small intestine.

The composition of gallstones consists of cholesterol and bile pigments, but occasionally might also be made of just cholesterol or only bile pigments. Gallstones often pass out of the body themselves, but at times, might result in symptoms like abdominal pain and nausea. This happens when gallstones partially or completely block the normal flow of the bile juice (this condition is also known as choledocholithiasis), resulting in a biliary colic attack.

Though these attacks are brief, but if the stones continue blocking the biliary tree or the outlet of pancreatic exocrine system for a longer period, it might result in inflammation of the gall bladder resulting in jaundice or acute pancreatitis.

Depending on the contents constituting them, gallstones acquire different appearances. On this basis, gallstones can be classified into two sub-types: Cholesterol stones and Pigment stones. Cholesterol stones are made of cholesterol. These are primarily green in color, but may also have white or yellowish appearances at times. Majority (80%) of gallstones come under this category.

Pigment stones, on the other hand are made up of bilirubin and calcium salts. These are small and dark in appearance and are found in minority of cases (20%). This type of gallstone might result in further complications like cirrhosis, biliary tract infections and hereditary blood cell disorders like sickle cell anemia and spherocytosis.

Cause Gall Stones

It is believed that many factors, like inherited body chemistry, body weight, gallbladder motility (movement), and perhaps diet (-fiber, high-cholesterol diets, and diets high in starchy foods), combines together decide in the formation of gallstones. High level of cholesterol in the bile results in the formation of cholesterol gallstones.

Other than this, factors like the frequency and efficiency of the gallbladder contraction along with infrequent and incomplete emptying of gall bladder may contribute in the formation of gallstones, as these factors if found results in the over-concentration of the bile. Also presence of proteins in liver and bile at times promotes the crystallization of cholesterol into gallstones.

During pregnancy, the levels of estrogen increase and might result in gallstones. Also use of hormone therapy and use of combined forms of hormonal contraception leads to gallstones as they have a tendency to increase cholesterol levels in the bile, along with decreasing the movement of the gall bladder.

Gall Stones Symptoms

In the initial stages, no symptoms are found. But as the size of the stones start increasing (>8mm), symptoms like a biliary colic attack, in which there is intense pain in the upper abdominal region, is experienced. The person suffering from this may feel pain in back, between shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Nausea and vomiting are also seen in such a condition.

It is seen that such attacks occur when the person has had a fatty meal and is most likely to take affect at night. Abdominal bloating, intolerance of fatty foods, belching, gas, and indigestion are few other symptoms of gallstones. If these symptoms show up along with symptoms like chills, low-grade fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, and/or clay-colored stool, consult a General Physician immediately.

Who's affected by the ailment of gall stones?

Gallstones usually occurs more in women and people who are overweight. Also, people over the age of forty also are prone to developing gallstones. A high-fat diet also leads to development of gallstones. It is estimated that every one in ten people suffers from gallstones at least once in their lifetime.

Gall Stones Prevention and Treatment

One can drink a glass of water at the start of the pain in order to regulate the bile in the gall bladder. Intake of magnesium, an hour later followed by drinking bitter liquids like coffee also help in stimulating the bile flow, thereby reducing the pain.

Doctors use oral ursodeoxycholic acid in order to dissolve the cholesterol gallstones. However, these may recur when the intake of the drug is stopped. Endoscopic retrograde sphinceterotomy (ERS) following endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) can be used in order to relieve the obstruction in the bile duct.

Doctors also use mechanical methods like shockwaves generated by electromagnetic or ultrasound sources to break the stones down. In severe cases, one can opt for Cholecystectomy, that is gall bladder removal, but this is not free from side-effects and thus should not be opted for if other measures can be effective.

In the end, in order to prevent the condition of gallstone formation from developing, consume a fat-free diet and maintain the ideal weight of your body.

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I came to know about the gall stones but you dint mention the treatment properly and also please mention what are the symptoms of diabetic patient.
#1 - mahesh - 09/15/2009 - 06:39
I've been using diets and such to prevent them from occurring as I've had a history of getting gallstones. Thanks for the article!
#2 - Sandy Williams - 11/15/2010 - 01:56
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