Like many people, Shanti (name changed) never enjoyed visiting the hospital. The mother-of-two was diagnosed with multiple stones in her gall-bladder a year ago during her routine health check. Although her physician recommended her to get the necessary advice from the specialist, she did not as the stones were asymptotic. If your case is similar to the above, then you are not alone – says the experts at Apollo Spectra Hospitals.
Gallstones often do not induce any symptoms and are incidentally discovered during a routine exam or for other medical reasons when an ultrasound of the abdomen is performed. Mostly, people may not experience any symptoms of gallstones throughout their life. Gallstones that remain silent need not necessarily to be treated. But, it is advisable for a person with symptomatic gallstones to get appropriate treatment as there is a higher chance of recurrence of such attacks in future.
People with symptomatic gallstones may experience acute, intense and intermittent pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen associated with vomiting that often occurs after a meal. This syndrome, biliary colic, corresponds to movements of a stone in the bile duct or to a temporary blockage of the gallbladder. The pain may subside within a few hours. The stone could also migrate out of the gallbladder to the duct and block the flow of bile. When the obstruction is prolonged over several hours, it may result in an inflammation and/or an infection of the gallbladder called acute cholecystitis. This complication occurs in about 1 in 5 people with untreated biliary colic.
Medical treatment (with medications dissolving the stones) combined with lithotripsy (shock waves to break up stones) is not very effective and rarely recommended these days. The preferred treatment option is the complete removal of the gallbladder in a surgery. Mostly the surgery is being performed laparoscopically and the patient is discharged within 2 – 3 days after the surgery.
Women, the elderly, overweight and obese people, individuals with a family history of gallstones, those who eat a fat-rich or low-fibre diet are more prone to developing gallstones. There are some fairly simple ways to prevent them, including simple dietary changes and maintaining health weight. At times, rapid weight loss also favours the development of gallstones. Thus, for those attempting to lose weight, the loss should be progressive and not exceed about 1 kilogram per week – says the doctor.
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