Contrary to the name, gallstones are not ‘stones’. These are digestive fluid deposits that have hardened in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is located close to the liver and stores bile – a substance produced by the liver that helps in digesting fats. Gallstones, also known simply as gallbladder stones, don’t always have symptoms, but in many cases where the stones may block a duct, the gallbladder must be removed surgically. Here are seven other facts you need to know.
- People have gallstones all the time. Yes, you read that right. Gallstones are common, and in majority of cases, there is no need for additional treatment or surgery. Gallstones can be too small like sand particles or can be large like a golf ball. Some people have many gallstones in the gallbladder, while others just have one.
- As mentioned, there are no severe symptoms of gallstones in general, but in case the gallstone blocks a duct, patients may have some pain in the upper right portion of the stomach (just below the chest). There can be pain behind the chest bones, as well. Others possible signs include nausea and vomiting. Some people may have prolonged hours of pain.
- You don’t need to see a doctor, unless you have abnormal abdominal pain that refuses to subside. Gallbladder is associated with the liver, and hence, if you see signs of jaundice, do seek medical attention at the earliest. Abdominal pain that doesn’t go away in a day should be treated seriously, regardless of whether you have gallstones or not, say the experts of United Surgical Partners International.
- There are two kinds of gallstones. The more common one is known as cholesterol gallstone, which has a yellowish appearance and is mainly composed of cholesterol that’s found in the bile. The second kind of gallstones are known as pigment stones, which are formed due to excessive bilirubin in blood. The latter appears more blackish.
- The gallbladder should empty itself normally, but when that doesn’t happen, gallstones may form. It is more seen in people who have high level of cholesterol in their bile or are overweight. If you try to lose weight quickly, you may get gallstones, although facts vary from case to case.
Did you know that you can still have a healthy life without your gallbladder? This is precise reason why the organ is removed in case of gallstone-related complications. The bile from your liver will go straight to the intestine after the surgery.