Prevention And Treatment Of Gall Stones

Treatment of gall stones when too much fat and cholesterol concentrate in bile and gall stones are formed, can be life saving.

The gallbladder, a small pear-shaped organ located underneath the liver. This organ stores bile which is a fluid composed of cholesterol and other digestive liquids. The function of bile is to digest fat in the small intestine. When too much cholesterol is concentrated within the bile, the particles of cholesterol bond together to form one or more gallstones.

This build-up of cholesterol and fat in the bile can be caused by several factors. In some cases, the gallbladder fails to empty properly, holding cholesterol and fat deposits there until they harden and form stones. Other factors can be obesity, excessive alcohol use and heredity, as in the case of native Americans, who have a high incidence of gallstones. People who have a family history of gallstones, those with heart disease or cirrhosis of the liver have a likelihood of suffering from this ailment. Gallstones are most often found in women although they can occur in both sexes.

Often no symptoms are noticed before the diagnosis of gallstones and symptoms are frequently thought to be some other ailment until medical testing is done. When symptoms do appear, they include nausea, heartburn, vomiting, fever, jaundice and belching. Often consumption of foods that contain fat cause severe discomfort. There may also be intense pain between the shoulder blades or in the upper right abdomen, which is known as biliary colic.



The jaundice sometimes seen in gallbladder sufferers is caused by a concentration of bilirubin in the bile. Bilibrubin is a waste product of the red blood cells that the blood carries to the liver for excretion. This substance is what helps to give urine its yellow color. When this substance builds up in the blood, as in gallbladder disease, the skin takes on a yellowish tinge or jaundice.

While there is no definitive measure to prevent the formation of gallstones, it is believed that a low-fat diet, which naturally reduces the level of cholesterol in the body, can have a positive effect. It is recommended that people who suffer with or are prone to this ailment limit their intake of red and fatty meats and whole milk dairy foods along with any other foods high in fat or cholesterol. Restricting the diet this way can also cause dietary deficiencies so it is important to consult a doctor on just what dietary changes to make.

Generally, losing weight can help but it should be noted that losing weight too fast may have a negative effect. Losing fat rapidly can cause the gallbladder to work less efficiently to digest fat, thus increase the build-up of cholesterol and fat levels, producing more gallstones.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and are recommended to gallstone sufferers. Also, eating smaller meals more often as opposed to large meals is said to reduce gallstone production. Since the gallbaldder must contract after each meal to digest its fatty bile contents, gallstones will have little chance to form. Cholesterol and fat in bile cannot build-up if the stomach is not overly full. Some gallstones have been linked to iron deficiencies but care should be taken before implementing any type of vitamin supplementation.

In many cases, surgery is recommended to remove the gallbladder. Although there are various medications designed to dissolve gallstones and treatments to disintegrate gallstones, these methods often result in recurrences. Lithotripsy, shockwave disintegration, is a method used for treatment although the recurrence rate is also high for this method. Surgery offers a permanent solution since the gallbladder is completely removed and, for most physicians, the safest method of dealing with gallstones is removal of the gallbladder.

After surgery, the outlook for patients is positive. Without treatment, gallstones could lead to serious infections of other organs and even in rupture of the gallbladder, which could possibly be fatal.

For those who suffer gallbladder attacks not deemed serious enough for surgery, there are some self-medications that may give some relief. If symptoms are not serious, an application of heat to the abdomen may be all that is needed to reduce the discomfort. Over the counter medications for pain may be all that is needed in these instances. Physicians may prescribe pain medications such as acetaminophen when they feel more serious measures are not indicated. If fever or pain persist for more than three hours, it is recommended that emergency medical treatment be obtained immediately.

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