What are gallstones and how to treat it?

Some people complain that they experience pain in the upper right abdomen when the gallbladder contracts to release bile after a meal.

One of the possible reasons for this pain in the right abdomen might be due to the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder in our body.

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are nothing but hardened cholesterol or tiny mass made up of bilirubin and calcium. As part of the digestion process, the liver produces a substance called bile to digest fats in the small intestine. This bile in concentrated form is stored in the gallbladder and contains high levels of cholesterol and the pigment bilirubin. The fluid and the pigment precipitate in the gallbladder as crystals to form stones, and these stones are called as gallstones.

How gallstones form or develop?

Gallstones can develop in both sexes, but they are most common in overweight middle-aged women. They also tend to run in families. Women, especially those who have borne children, are thought to be particularly vulnerable because of the high levels of blood cholesterol and bile that develop late in pregnancy and in the weeks following childbirth. It is also believed that the female hormones progesterone and estrogen, whether occuring naturally or taken in oral contraceptives, may play a role in gallstone formation. Crass weight-loss diets are believed to be another precipitating factor.

Symptoms of gallstones

Many people never know that they have gallstones because there are no symptoms. For some, however, the presence of gallstones can cause pain in the upper right abdomen when the gallbladder contracts to release bile after a meal.

Treatment for gallstones

The usual treatment for gallstones is the surgical removal of the gallbladder called cholecystectomy. This procedure can be performed by conventional surgery or by laparascopy, which involves a tiny incision and a brief stay at the hospital. Another option is a procedure called lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to break up the gallstones.

How to avoid gallstones

Gallstones are formed of cholesterol. As such, it is advisable to eliminate fats and cholesterol from their diets. One should maintain the habit of eating breakfast every day without fail and also take meals in small quantities more frequently than resorting to one-time heavy meal.. People with gallstones should avoid foods that cause them discomfort. Their diet should emphasize starchy foods, with lots of fruits and vegetables, moderate servings of protein, and small amounts of fat. Alcohol should be used in moderation as the gallbladder disease also affects the liver and the pancreas.