As anyone who has ever experienced having to pass a gallstone will be all too aware, the pain can be absolutely excruciating. It is also possible for smaller stones to be missed thus leaving sufferers at a loss as to understand why they are in so much discomfort.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are formed in the gall bladder and occur when the bile contains an excess amount of cholesterol. These stones may differ significantly in size and are composed of calcium, bile fats and cholesterol. A blood test may be used to diagnose gallstones through identifying how the liver if functioning. Many doctors within accident and emergency departments will first request a urine sample as a quick method of ruling out any other types of infection such as those affecting the kidneys.
In addition to blood and urine tests, patients with suspected gallstones may also have a scan which includes either an ultrasound, CT or MRI. It is crucial before having a CT or MRI scan to inform one’s doctor if one is pregnant or suspects this to be the case.
Understanding Gall Bladder Disease
The gall bladder is used to store bile and to help the body to digest fat, however, the gall bladder may become inflamed resulting in admission to hospital and being administered antibiotics. In addition, gall bladder disease can lead to both jaundice and biliary colic. A person suffering from jaundice will typically appear yellow, pass dark urine and complain of itchy skin. Those affected may also experience fever or chills and shake.
Gall bladder disease is a fairly common condition which primarily affects women and usually results in extreme pain following eating as well as feeling nauseous and showing signs of fever. Symptoms associated with biliary colic also include nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and excess wind.
Treatment for Gallstones
The main form of treatment for gallstones includes adapting one’s diet to become very low in fat and as healthy as possible. Mild pain may be relieved through holding a hot water bottle on the abdomen and through taking over the counter painkillers. One approach known as dissolution therapy may only be used to treat stones which are small and of a specific type. Gall stones are also treated using lithotripsy which involves blasting them with a beam of sound, following the removal of smaller fragments through the use of dissolution therapy.