A gallstone is a stone created from bile matter in your gallbladder. They can be very painful to pass and can cause medical difficulties if untreated.
Hundreds of thousands of surgeries are performed each year on gallstone patients. But that is only a fraction of the amount of those with gallstones. Generally, the cases take care of themselves, but sometimes, assistance and direction is needed.
What Causes Gallstones?
Gallstones are caused by a buildup of bile in your gallbladder. But there are many reasons this may occur. The most common reason is that your bile contains too much cholesterol. A healthy gallbladder will create enough chemical substance to dissolve the cholesterol built up. But a high-cholesterol diet can create an imbalance that will not allow the bile to do its job.
Your liver will normally not excrete too much cholesterol for your bile to get rid of. But in some cases, it does happen. When it does, your bile cannot dissolve it, so the cholesterol will sit there in your gallbladder and crystalize into stones.
Other than high-cholesterol, another cause of gallstones is an excess amount of bilirubin. This is created to break down red blood cells. Many blood disorders and other diseases can cause your body to produce too much bilirubin.
The third cause of gallstones is if for some reason, you gallbladder cannot empty on its own.
The risk of forming gallstones is increased in:
- Pregnant women and older women
- Mexicans and Native Americans
- Obese patients
- Those who do not receive enough exercise
- Those who consume too much fat or cholesterol
- Those who do not eat enough fiber
- Those with a hormonal imbalance
Foods and Remedies that Help Fight Gallstones
While going to see your general physician is ideal, there are a few at-home remedies that can help. There are also a few foods that can fight gallstones before they are even formed. This is a perfect way for those at a high-risk to aide their body in keeping healthy bile.
Foods to eat to prevent gallstones:
- Sweet potatoes
- Low-fat poultry
- Low-fat dairy products
Here is a list of foods you should avoid:
- High-fat dairy products
- Cakes, cookies, and other pastries
- High-fat red meat
- White potatoes (or French fries)
If you feel that you already have gallstones, ask a doctor before changing your diet. Here are a few emergency remedies you can use if you fear that you are developing gallstones:
- Mix 1TB of apple cider vinegar with a glass of apple juice and drink it
- Drink 4TB of lemon juice on an empty stomach followed by a glass of water
- Boil dried peppermint leaves in a cup of water and drink it
- Mix 1TB of psyllium powder in a glass of water and drink
These are also helpful when you are helping the gallstones pass after being diagnosed by a physician. The healing process can go much smoother.
Symptoms of Gallstones
Symptoms of gallstones vary, and oftentimes, there are no warning signs at all.
But when there are symptoms, they usually include:
- Intense pain on the upper right side of your abdomen
- Intense pain in the upper center of your abdomen
- Pain between your shoulder blades
- Pain on your right shoulder
- Abdominal cramping
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Dark urine
- Light stools
If you experience more than a few of these symptoms, consult your doctor as you may have gallstones. As gallstones can lead to an infection that can reach the liver or pancreas, it’s crucial that this condition does not go untreated. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the gallstones, and in rare cases of untreated gallstones, death can occur.
Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand and easy to pass. In the other hand, they can reach the size of a gold ball, becoming nearly impossible to treat without the help of a physician. About 10% of the world has gallstones, but they experience no symptoms and never know they have them.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore your symptoms of they do occur. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. It is possible for one to develop over 100 gallstones at one time. Nearly one million new cases of gallstones are diagnosed by physicians each year, and a large majority of them require surgery.
Remember to reference to the symptoms and contact a doctor if at all concerned.