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Cholelithiasis (gallstones) is formed in the gallbladder or bile duct stones and lumps. They are formed out of certain substances contained in the gallbladder as cholesterol, bilirubin, and calcium carbonate, which solidify to form one large or several smaller stones.
Gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver, and then during the meal, transports it through the narrow tubes of bile ducts into the small intestine aiding digestion – especially of fats.
It is worth as a preliminary point to distinguish between types of gallstones – the first are associated with an excess of cholesterol in the bile, the second are caused by excessively large amounts of bilirubin. Scientists are not sure exactly what causes a chemical imbalance in the gallbladder, which contributes to the formation of gallstones. Among the main reasons are mentioned, however:
- Overweight and obesity – especially among women, as a studies show excessive body weight even double increases the risk of gallstones.
- Pregnancy – women after giving birth, often struggling with problems with gallbladder stones.
- Fluctuations in weight – a sudden loss of weight and put on weight, particularly among males increased the risk of developing bile stones in the future.
- The use of oral contraceptive, especially those with a high dose of estrogen may disturb the chemical balance of bile.
- Genetics – it happens that the gallstones occur in close relatives, hence the risk of disease is increased in the case of illness diagnosed at a family member.
- Diet – high dietary fat intake significantly increases the risk of developing gallstones.
- Age – a chemical imbalance in the gallbladder often occurs with age and gallstone problems most often are revealed after 60s years of age.
- Diabetes, statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) or menopause in women.
Symptoms of cholelithiasis
Most cases of cholelithiasis do not have obvious symptoms, but when cholecystitis appears, may occur abdominal pain, back pain, pain in the right arm, as well as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anxiety.
Other possible symptoms are also biliary colic, infections, jaundice and pancreatitis. Therefore, cholelithiasis often is diagnosed in connection with the emergence of other health problems.
Gallstones are generally treated when the bile duct obstruction occurs or where they get into the intestines. Most often it is necessary to make a surgical procedure for gallbladder (cholecystectomy). Unfortunately, very frequently occurs recurrence of the disease. Another method is the use of ursodeoxycholic acid, which helps to dissolve gallstones caused by a buildup of cholesterol. As an aid in the removal of gallstones, are also used an endoscope or Lithotripsy – ultrasound waves.
Important in the proper treatment of cholelithiasis is also a diet that in the case of people suffering from a disease or those who are at increased risk should be low in fat, high in fruits and vegetables with particular reference to products with a high fiber content. It must be remembered also about the permanent weight management.