Gallstones are small hard crystal-like deposits that develop in the gallbladder or in the bile ducts, that drain bile from the liver. Bile is a digestive juice which is produced by the liver and is stored in the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped organ. Bile is made up mainly of cholesterol and Bile acid. It is only when these stones get lodged in the duct and block the free passage of bile does the symptoms arise. There are three types of gallstones, viz., Cholesterol stones, Pigment stones, and Mixed stones (which has pigment and cholesterol content). It is caused mainly by an increase in blood cholesterol levels, as also the break-down of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) due to some infectious diseases like sickle cell anemia or malaria. It can also result from an infection of the gallbladder. Some risk factors which can further trigger gallstones include obesity and pre-existing liver diseases.
Gallstones have a sudden onset. It would entail pain in the right and upper abdomen, as well as nausea and vomiting. Fever, a loss of appetite, darkening of urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice are other symptoms. Also, the pain caused by gallstones is usually not relieved by antacids.
Do’s and Don’ts
First of all, you should control and maintain your optimal weight. If you are obese, dieting and regular exercise will help you to slim down. A low-fat diet, with fewer animal fats and dairy products such as paneer, cheese etc is advised. Take plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains. Sunflower oil and safflower oil with their abundance of Vitamin C will help in reducing the cholesterol content of bile. Fresh lemon juice and bitter salads are especially useful, while high-fiber diets like peas, beans, and bran help in the prevention of gallstone formation. Moderate consumption of olive oil (2 teaspoons per day), also help in reduction and slowing down of gallstones formation. Another substance helpful in preventing gallstone formation is lecithin, which is used as a thickener in ice-cream. It is also found in soya beans, oatmeal, eggs, milk, peanuts, cabbage, and chocolates. Since gallstones are only one of the many possible causes of severe abdominal pain, consult your doctor to find out the cause of the pain. Meet the doctor also if the pain persists or if jaundice is noticed.