Gall Bladder Stones – Symptoms
Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. But if a Gallstone gets lodged in a duct, it can cause blockage. Consequently, you may experience the following symptoms –
- Sudden sharp pain in the abdomen
- Back pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the right shoulder
- Indigestion, nausea or vomiting
Pain due to Gall Bladder stones may last several minutes to a few hours.
Certain signs and symptoms may indicate that you have serious Gallstone complications. These include –
- Intense abdominal pain that doesn’t allow you to sit or find a comfortable position
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (indicates jaundice)
- Elevated temperature and chills
Gall Bladder Stones – Causes
The definite cause of Gallstone formation is unclear. Doctors believe that Gallstones may form when:
- Your bile contains excessive amounts of cholesterol – If the cholesterol discharge from your liver is more than your bile can dissolve, the excess cholesterol eventually hardens to stones.
- Your bile contains excess bilirubin – Certain conditions cause your liver to make excess bilirubin which contributes to Gallstone formation.
- Your gallbladder doesn’t void correctly – If your gallbladder doesn’t void completely or frequently enough, the bile may become very concentrated, leading to the formation of gallstones.
Females have a relatively higher risk of developing Gallstones when compared to men. Additional factors that may increase one’s risk of Gallstones include –
- Being above the age of 40
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Consuming a low-fiber, high-cholesterol or high-fat diet
- A family history of Gallstones
- Medication that contains estrogen
- Rapid weight loss
- Blood disorders like leukemia or sickle cell anaemia
Gall Bladder Stones – Diagnosis
The procedures used to diagnose Gall Bladder stones or its complications include –
- Abdominal ultrasound is used to look for signs of Gallstones in your abdomen.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) uses a thin tube inserted into the digestive tract to help identify smaller stones that may be missed during an abdominal ultrasound.
- Imaging tests like CT scan, ERCP can also help to discover Gallstones.
- Blood tests reveal signs of infection, jaundice, pancreatitis or other Gallstone complications.
Gall Bladder Stones – Treatment
If you don’t show symptoms of Gallstones, you will generally not need any treatment. However, your doctor may ask you to look out for symptoms of Gallstone complications, such as intensifying pain in your upper right abdomen.
In case you develop symptoms, your treatment options may include –
- Your doctor may recommend Gall Bladder removal surgery or Cholecystectomy if you have recurring Gallstones. Surgery can be minimally invasive or open surgery depending upon your condition.
- If it is not possible for you to undergo surgery, you may be prescribed oral medication to dissolve Gallstones. However, this line of treatment may extend for several months and years. There is even a possibility of recurrence if medication is stopped.
Gall Bladder Stones – Risks & Complications
Complications of Gall Bladder stones may include:
- Blockage of the gallbladder which results in inflammation.
- Blockage of common bile duct, resulting in severe pain, jaundice and infection.
- Blockage of the pancreatic duct, you may usually require hospitalization.
- A history of Gallstones may increase your risk of developing Gall Bladder cancer.
Gall Bladder removal surgery or Cholecystectomy has a small risk of complications including bleeding, infection, bile leak, injury to nearby organs, blood clot and pneumonia.
Gall Bladder Stones – Pre Op Care
- Avoid eating or drinking anything at least four hours before surgery.
- Take your medicines only with a sip of water before surgery.
- Inform your doctor about ongoing medication and supplements.
Gall Bladder Stones – Post Op Care
- Include fibrous food in your diet.
- You may be recommended to take walks.
- Take the prescribed medication to relieve post-surgery discomfort.
- Restrict strenuous activities.
- Avoid driving until directed by your doctor.
- Inform the doctor if you have a fever or swelling.