If you are overweight, obese, or live a sedentary lifestyle, you are putting yourself at risk for many health problems. Your lifestyle can take a toll on your digestive health. If you find yourself experiencing pain in the upper right-hand corner of your abdomen, it could be due to gallstones.
It is not only people who are overweight who have this problem. Pregnancy, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and liver cirrhosis can also put you at greater risk for gallstones.
Let’s talk about everything that you should know about gallstones, including causes, symptoms, and how they are treated.
Causes of Gallstones
Gallstones are a mixture of cholesterol, bilirubin, proteins, calcium salts, and more. Gallstones usually form when the bile stored in the gallbladder begins to harden. They are called cholesterol gallstones if they form due to high levels of cholesterol and pigment stones if they are a result of too much bilirubin in the bile. A diet high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber, as well as a predisposition to forming gallstones can lead to this problem. The gallbladder failing to empty completely of bile can also cause gallstones to develop.
When gallstones form, they move and cause painful symptoms. Gallstones are characterized by attacks, usually after consuming a heavy meal.
What Are The Symptoms of Gallstones?
In addition to abdominal pain, gallstones can also cause other symptoms, such as chest pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, tea-colored urine, and light-colored stools. Pain from gallstones can last several hours and can also spread to your upper back and shoulder blade.
How Are Gallstones Treated?
Gallstones can block the bile ducts, which can cause complications. Gastroenterologists or GI doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating digestive disorders usually treat gallstones with surgery to remove the gallbladder. This does not affect the digestive process, as the liver will still keep producing bile. While there is medication that can dissolve the gallstones, the process takes months or years to take effect.
GI doctors can remove the gallbladder using a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It is called minimally invasive because it uses several small incisions instead of a large one. The tool used, which is a laparoscope, is a long, thin, and flexible tube with a camera and light source attached at the end, which allows the surgeon to have a real-time view of your gallbladder. The doctor will then proceed to remove your gallbladder through another incision.
If for any reason you are unable to undergo surgery, the GI doctor may recommend electrohydraulic shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which involves breaking down the stones using shock waves.
Treatment for Gallstones in Austin, TX
Gallstones can lead to serious and potentially fatal complications if left untreated. Our board-certified gastroenterologists at Austin Gastroenterology (AG) are highly experienced in treating gallstones and offer patients several treatment options. Our goal is to help relieve and manage painful symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
We are the largest physician group in Central Texas and have maintained a reputation for excellence and patient-centric care. To schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, call our clinic nearest you or use our convenient online form.