Everyone has heard of gallstones, and it isn’t normally a medical condition which is a cause for concern. But, as with other medical conditions, the keyword is ‘normally’. Most people will not even be aware that they have gallstones – until it becomes an emergency situation, that is. The symptoms for gallstones can vary, but everyone will agree that if you experience severe pain in your abdomen, especially in the upper right portion, you need to see a specialist right away. There are people, however, who experience light symptoms, which are referred to as biliary colic, particularly after consuming fatty food. If you suspect you have gallstones and would like to know how to deal with it, here’s what you should know about the real symptoms of gallstones and what you can best do for treatment.
The basics of gallstones
Gallstones are found in the gall bladder, and they are often small yet solid formations or lumps which are produced in the bile of the gall bladder. Gallstones are quite common, but they occur more often in men than in women. Gallstones can occur due to age, but they can also be due to genetics or family history.
The symptoms of gallstones
As mentioned, most people are not even aware that they have gallstones, and they only find out they have them if they are being investigated for another medical condition. In fact, gallstones may only have symptoms if they transfer from a person’s gall bladder to one of the bile ducts which lead from one’s gall bladder and into the intestine. Complications such as these will usually show symptoms such as biliary colic when the gallstones are stuck or get caught in the neck of a person’s gall bladder, which causes pain. Individuals can feel pain from biliary colic in the top portion of their stomach, in the middle, or underneath the ribs, within the right side. The pain can be continuous, but they may also feel the pain in waves, and it can last for several hours. Patients have also been known to vomit or feel nauseated, especially after eating.
Another symptom of gallstones is cholecystitis, where the gallstones may end up causing inflammation in the gall bladder’s wall, as confirmed by gallstone surgery London experts from the London Surgical Group. Others may exhibit symptoms of jaundice, which is caused when the body is no longer able to dispose of bilirubin (a chemical that is yellow in colour and occurs in the body). Bilirubin is from red blood cells which are no longer useful, and it is a natural waste product. The liver has to get rid of it by combining it with bile, but if there is a gallstone blocking the primary duct which leads from a person’s liver into their intestine, the bilirubin gets stuck in the body, and a person will exhibit yellowish skin and eyes.
The treatment options
There are various options for treatment for gallstones which cause pain, such as surgery or ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography). Surgery such as gallbladder surgery London from the London Surgical Group is recommended if all the gallstones are in the gall bladder, and this is done with the keyhole method – a faster and less invasive method compared to traditional surgery. ERCP, on the other hand, is where the specialist will remove gall stones within the bile duct using an endoscope. Other options include shock waves, gallstone dissolving, and the removal of the gall bladder itself.