Gallstone Symptoms and Treatment

Gallstones are formed due to hardening of certain chemicals and waste substances, in the bile duct. It is a very common disorder and can be removed with medications or surgery.
Gallstones are a small pebble like things, found in the gallbladder and are made of bilirubin, cholesterol and other waste products. The size of these gallstones range from small particulate grains to 3-4 cm large stones. This is a common gallbladder disease, all over the world. Although, the condition may be asymptomatic in most cases, larger gallstones can definitely lead to severe symptoms. Gallstones is called a costly disease because the treatment is pretty expensive.

Gallstones form when there is an excess of bilirubin or cholesterol in the bile. The bile salts are insufficient to dissolve these substances. As a result, they go on accumulating in the bile duct and lead to formation of gallstones. If these gallstones are not removed on time, they can be painful for the person. This is a disorder that is more prevalent in women than in men. However, elderly men with obesity problem, are also prone to gallstones.

Gallstones Symptoms
As mentioned before, gallstones symptoms need not surface, if the stones are small enough. They pose a problem only when they are so large, that they obstruct the bile duct. The peculiar symptoms of gallstones include:
  • Sharp pain in the upper abdomen, for about 30 minutes or more.
  • Back pain between shoulder blades or under the right shoulder.
  • Nausea or vomiting, particularly in severe cases.
  • Yellowness of skin and white of the eye.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Clay colored stools.
The symptoms of gallstones are often termed as 'gallstones attack'. You may experience one or more symptoms, if you have gallstones.

Gallstones Treatments
Gallstones are often detected in tests conducted for some other ailment. If a person shows symptoms of gallstones, he may be advised to undergo special screening for gallstones. The treatment for gallstones removal include, surgical method and non-surgical methods. Besides, there are also some natural remedies for gallstone removal.

1.Non-Surgical Methods
Non-surgical methods of gallstones removal include:

Oral Dissolution Therapy: Oral dissolution therapy involves administering drugs orally, in order to dissolve the gallstones. It may take a few months before all the gallstones get dissolved. A person may experience mild diarrhea, as a part of gallstones treatments. The levels of blood cholesterol may elevate temporarily.

Contact Dissolution Therapy: Contact dissolution therapy involves administering drugs and medications directly in the gallbladder, so as to dissolve the gallstones. The drug, methyl tert-butyl ether is capable of dissolving some stones in 1 to 3 days, but can also cause irritation and lead to complications. This therapy is recommended for patients who exhibit symptoms and have small gallstones.

2.Surgical Method
The surgical method of treating gallstones, includes the removal of gallbladder. As human body can function without a gallbladder, most people think of this as the best way of curing gallstones problem. This surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the world. The surgery is called cholecystectomy and is mostly performed using a laparoscope. The surgeon makes several incisions and inserts the laparoscope, to gain the magnified image of the gallbladder. He monitors the affected area and removes the gallbladder through one of the incisions. However, if the bladder is severely damaged or scarred due to some other disease, then the surgeon may decide on an open surgery. It involves making 5-8 inches incisions across the abdomen. Recovery time for open surgery is more, than in endoscopic surgery and involves quite a few complications.

Laparoscopic surgery is an easy way of removing gallstones. However, about 5% of gallstones patients are required to undergo an open surgery. It is imperative to take proper care during and after the gallstones surgery. Gallstone symptoms should be reported to the physician, without a delay to avoid further complications.
By Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Last Updated: 9/23/2011
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