Gallstones are solid particles that are formed in the gallbladder which is a small sac like organ located below the liver on the right side of the abdomen and stores bile until needed.
Gallstones within the gallbladder usually don’t cause any symptoms unless they are much in number and person takes heavy fatty meal. Another cause of pain could be obstruction if they block bile secretion from the gallbladder or they get stuck into the bile duct.
The size of the stone may vary from very small like a grain to as big as a golf ball and may be single or multiple in number.
Types of gallstones:
There are two types of gallstones
- Cholesterol stones: are formed when there is excess of cholesterol in the bile.
- Pigment stones: are formed when there is excess of bilirubin in the bile.
Risk factors for gallstones:
- Fair, fat, forty, females: women who are obese and in the middle age are more prone to development of gallstones.
- Sedentary lifestyle: being less active in daily life can predispose to development of gallstones.
- Pregnancy: during pregnancy as well due to excess hormones, female become prone to development of gallstones.
- High-fat diet: high fiber diet is also a risk factor for development of gallstones.
- Low-fiber diet
- High-cholesterol diet: is also a risk factor.
- Oral contraceptive pills: may also predispose to development of stones.
- Crash dieting.
- Family history of gallstones.
- Liver diseases like cirrhosis.
- Having diabetes mellitus.
Complications of gallstones
- Major complication of an obstructed gallstone is inflammation of the gallbladder which is also known as cholecystitis and cause fever and pain.
- Blockage of common bile duct may cause infection and jaundice.
- Sometimes due to association of pancreatic duct with the common bile duct the stone may get lodged in the pancreatic duct and would cause obstruction. This would cause inflammation that is pancreatitis leading to intense pain.
- Gallstones also increases chances of gallbladder cancer as well in future.
SYMPTOMS & CAUSES
Gallstones don’t produce symptoms usually unless there is obstruction caused by them. Symptoms caused by it are:
- Pain in right upper abdomen and can occur after a fatty meal.
- Pain is also felt in the epigastric region (it is the upper central region of the abdomen) and can radiate to right shoulder as well.
- Nausea/ vomiting.
- Bloating, indigestion, burping and clay stools.
Gallstones are formed when bile forms solid particles in the gallbladder. Although exact cause is not known but gallstone is formed when:
- Bile contains excess cholesterol
- Bile contains excess bilirubin
- Gallbladder emptying is not complete and allows contents to concentrate.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Imaging of the abdomen is enough for diagnosis by ultrasound or CT scan to visualize the stones.
- Many people stay asymptomatic and get to know about the stones accidentally only. Thus many patients don’t require any treatment as such.
- Firstly symptomatic treatment is given to relieve pain and associated symptoms. Then surgery could be performed and gallbladder can be removed.
- Oral medication can also be given to dissolve the stones.
- Treatment plan entirely depends on the condition of the patient.
- Pain management is important if the patient is experiencing it.
- Patient is advised not to skip meals as it would increase chances of production of stone.
- Crash dieting should never be done and weight should be reduced slowly.
- Healthy diet should be followed
- Maintain a healthy weight as per your age and height, not much or less.
- Advice on adding fibers to the diet should be given and food should contain less oil.
- Regular physical exercise is necessary.
- Fatty/ greasy meal should be avoided.
- Those having gallstones should not take oral contraceptives.
Homeopathic approach to manage gallstones include management of pain and associated symptoms and to avoid surgery by dissolving the stones in the gallbladder by oral medicines. There are various medicines for gallstones but always constitutional medicines should be given as they would help in complete cure. Constitutional medicines can be sought for only after though case taking.
DO’S AND DON’TS
- Eat fiber rich diet.
- Do regular physical exercise.
- Lose weight slowly.
- Maintain appropriate weight.
- Eat regular meals.
- Avoid fatty meals.
- Avoid skipping meals.
- Avoid oral contraceptive pills.
- Don’t do crash dieting.
- Don’t lose weight suddenly.