Patient who suffer from gallstones may not experience any symptoms at all unless one suddenly becomes trapped in a duct inside the gallbladder. If this happens, it can trigger intense abdominal pain that can last several hours or more. The primary treatment for gallstones disorders is surgery to remove the gallbladder.
What are gallstones and what causes them?
Gallstones are caused by an imbalance in the substances that make up the bile in your body. Most gallstones are made from crystalized cholesterol, which group together in clumps. Gallstones can vary in size, from as small as a grain of rice to the size of a golf ball. The larger the gallstones are, the more likely they are to get stuck and cause the patient to experience pain.
Although it’s not known exactly why some people are more likely to develop gallstones than others, studies show that you are at greater risk if you are:
- Over the age of 40
- Female, particularly if you have had children
- Overweight or obese
If a patient is suffering from symptoms such as abdominal pain, or complications a result of having gallstones, they may be recommended for gallbladder removal surgery. This can be performed laparoscopically, meaning that it is a minimally invasive surgery requiring several small incisions into the abdomen rather than one large one. Laparoscopic gallbladder removal, also known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is a simple and straightforward procedure, and most patients can function absolutely fine without the presence of a gallbladder.
How to avoid gallstones
We firmly believe that wherever possible, prevention is much better than cure and taking steps to avoid the development of gallstones is preferential to requiring surgery to treat them.
Although it is not known exactly why gallstones form, experts believe that making changes to your diet may help to prevent them. Cholesterol is the primary substance in gallstones, and so eating a diet that is likely to raise your cholesterol levels may increase the likelihood of you developing them. As such, many doctors recommend that you avoid food that is high in saturated fat, such as:
- Cakes and biscuits
- Butter, ghee and lard
- Meat pies
- Sausages and fatty cuts of meat
- Hard cheeses
- Food that contains coconut or palm oil
Instead, it is recommended that people eat a healthy, balanced diet containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Losing weight can also reduce your risk of developing gallstones. By eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise, you can dramatically improve your overall health and wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of experiencing medical problems, such as gallstones, in the future.