Gallstones occur more often than previously thought. This condition can be present without showing symptoms and is often detected when trying to diagnose another condition.

The gallbladder is an anatomical structure located under the liver, this is the place where the bile produced by the liver is stored and from where it is excreted into the digestive system or the small intestine, with the purpose of helping the absorption of fats.

A percentage greater than 80% of the population studied presents gallstones without any symptoms throughout their lives. Only 20% or 2 out of 10 patients will suffer from the symptoms and discomfort caused by this disease.

What are gallstones?

Bile is a viscous liquid whose composition is determined by the individual’s liver. When there is any alteration in the gallbladder, be it anatomical, functional or in the composition of one of the components of the bile, it begins to solidify and create solid parts of strong consistency known as gallstones.

Due to its consistency some people call it stones and in medicine it is known as gallstones. Gallstones (stones) (related to the gallbladder).

Symptoms of gallstones

The symptoms of gallstones can vary from person to person. The intensity of these is directly related to the degree of obstruction of the normal flow of bile that they produce.

  • Severe abdominal pain Located in the upper abdominal area above the navel or below the ribs on the right side. This pain feels like it is moving down your back or shoulder. The intensity can be so high that a visit to the emergency room is warranted. Pain can occur after food intake. It is sudden or sudden onset and can last from a couple of minutes to several hours.
  • Back pain . With similar characteristics to abdominal pain
  • Pain in the right shoulder . Located from the neck to the shoulder and it is impressive that the pain moves towards the back.
  • Jaundice . It means that the skin and mucous membranes of the patient turn yellowish.
  • Purito . Exaggerated stinging or itching all over the body.
  • Fatigue . Lack of energy and general tiredness, usually precede the appearance of itching and jaundice.
  • Weightloss. Caused by the severe pain that the patient experiences after eating food, which leads the patient to avoid any food, generating a decrease in caloric intake.

How do gallstones originate or what are their causes?

Gallstones are produced by alterations in the composition of bile or in its free flow through the gallbladder and the duct that allows its excretion into the small intestine.

Cholesterol gallstones

These are caused when the concentration or amount of cholesterol present in the bile is very high for a sustained time, which facilitates the formation of lumps that come together and can generate stones of up to 2.5 cm in diameter each.

Pigment gallstones

As a result of the normal functions of the liver, it must excrete or eliminate circulating pigments in the blood such as bilirubin. Bilirubin is excreted in the bile.

When the concentration of a pigment is increased this creates the solidification and grouping of these solids giving way to the formation of lithiasis.

Gallstones produced by bacteria

In some diseases that affect the duodenum of the small intestine, bacteria penetrate the duct that communicates with the gallbladder and cause the bile to solidify.

Inflammation of the gallbladder

The gallbladder can become inflamed, known as cholecystitis, and this promotes the precipitation and solidification of bile.

Gallbladder infection

Called cholangitis, the bacteria favor the formation of lithiasis by allowing the adhesion of bile to the bacterial walls and promoting its accumulation.

Gallbladder obstruction or malformation

Any factor that slows, slows or prevents the free flow of bile will eventually cause its components to solidify.

Risk factors for developing gallstones

  • To be a woman.
  • Having obesity
  • High fat diet.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Take birth control pills.
  • Anatomical abnormalities in the shape of the gallbladder.

Treatment of gallstones

Learn how to cleanse the liver and remove gallstones

  • Cholecystectomy. A surgical intervention to remove the gallbladder can be performed laparoscopically in order to reduce recovery time and complications .
  • Ultrasound lithotripsy . Ultrasound shock waves are used to cause stone destruction or disintegration.
  • Bile salts. Ursodeoxycholic acid can be used, which can disintegrate the stones formed, this is taken orally (by mouth).
  • Dissolution by contact or litholysis. By introducing a catheter into the gallbladder, a drug is applied directly to the stones that will cause their disintegration or dissolution, removing all of them.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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