The Gall bladder is a small organ found just under the liver in the upper right side of the abdomen. Its function is to produce bile which is important for digestion. Bile is a greenish-yellow liquid that aids digestion. One problem most associated with the Gall bladder is Gall bladder stones or Gallstones for short.
Gallstones are caused when there is a high amount of cholesterol in the bile. Research studies have shown that 80% of the Gall stones are made of cholesterol. The other 20% is made mostly of bilirubin and calcium salts. The exact reason or sequence of activities that causes Gall bladder stones are unknown. As per Dr. Samrat Jankar, an eminent gastroenterologist in Pune, “If you are able to manage mild and infrequent gallstone attacks, and if your doctor thinks that you aren’t likely to have any serious complications, it’s okay not to have surgery. Medications can help.”
There are no outright causes or reasons for the existence of Gallstones but there are some theories that have been put together to this effect and some of these are,
Excess cholesterol in bile
If your liver makes more cholesterol than your bile can break down then it would most likely lead to a high amount of cholesterol in the bile and since cholesterol makes up most of the Gall stones, at this point it’s only a matter of time before these stones start to form.
Excess bilirubin in bile
Bilirubin is a biochemical which is produced when old red blood cells are broken down and this is done by the liver. The liver could be damaged or malfunctioning causing the production of bilirubin to be more than needed and usual. This goes into the Gall bladder and if it meets a condition of high cholesterol level, the Gallstones are made. Usually, the Gall bladder is supposed to break down the bilirubin. This may not happen when the bilirubin produced by the liver is too much or when the Gall bladder cannot break down the bilirubin.
The concentration of bile due to full Gall bladder
From time to time the bile needs to empty itself and be deconcentrated, this is essential for it to remain healthy and work properly. When this doesn’t happen then there is a problem as failure to empty the Gall bladder will lead to a concentrated Gall bladder, made of concentrated bile and a host of other unwanted biochemical causing Gall stones.
The most pronounced symptom of Gall bladder stones is a pain in the upper abdomen. This pain usually occurs when foods high in fat are eaten. These foods will most likely contain cholesterol which isn’t good for the condition itself. The pain could last for a few hours but nothing more than that. Some other symptoms include,
- Dark urine: you would most likely have a dark urine which would most likely be due to the bilirubin.
- Nausea: you will feel nauseous most of the time. You will most likely be uneasy and uncomfortable for no reason at all.
- Vomiting: with the nauseous feeling, surely, you are going to vomit and it is due to you feeling uncomfortable and nauseous.
- Abdominal pain: you would feel pains in your abdominal area. Sometimes it could sting others could be really strong and harsh.
- Indigestion: when you have Gall stones you start to experience indigestion. Food doesn’t digest properly anymore. Most digestion is incomplete.
- Clay-colored stool: you start experiencing a change in the color of your stool as it goes from normal to looking clay.
- Most of the time there are not treatments for Gall stones. They just go away. But sometimes it causes unbearable pain and something has to be done. This is most likely in a time where there are too many Gall stones and the concentration is really high. In cases like this, the doctor would recommend surgery. Only in very few cases that medication is used. “We recommend our patient’s surgery if they have had repeated attacks. Surgery is the best way to prevent gallstone attacks. The body will work fine without a gallbladder. There may be small changes in how you digest food, but you probably won’t notice them.” Says Dr. Samrat Jankar, a practicing laparoscopic surgeon in Pune, at Symbiosis University & Hospital.
There are also cases where surgery isn’t recommended because the chances of success are low and the risk is high. At this point, another method is used to lower the risk and better the chances. The doctor gets a drainage tube and places it into the Gall bladder through the skin. Most likely, in conditions like this, the Gall stones are not attacked directly. Other medical conditions are treated first, thus increasing the chances of success of the surgery and reducing the risk.
It is very possible to have Gall stones and not have any symptoms of it including the pain. Once the doctor has detected it, you have to adopt some new lifestyle changes to better the quality of life and remove the gall stones to avoid a worsened condition later in the future. Some of these may include
- Avoid rapid weight loss
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Take vitamin c
- Take supplements as recommended by your doctor
- Avoid cholesterol
- Avoid sodium