Gallstones Symptoms and Treatment
If you experience sudden pain in the upper right part of your abdomen or the center of your abdomen below your breastbone, you may have gallstones. Rapid onset and intensification of pain in these areas often indicate that a gallstone may have obstructed a duct in your gallbladder.
Other symptoms may include back pain between shoulder blades or pain in your right shoulder. These attacks are sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The pain can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours.
Treatment for this chronic condition is needed when gallstones produce intense abdominal pain that does not go away. Another sign you need treatment is if you begin to get jaundice. This causes a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Severe gallstone problems can also produce high fever with chills.
With serious gallstone symptoms, surgery is often needed. In these situations, the gall bladder is removed. There are cases in which a person may have gallstones, but they do not cause symptoms. Treatment is usually not needed in these instances.
How Gallstones Form
Just below your liver on the right side of your abdomen is a small pear-shaped gland. This is your gallbladder, and it contains the digestive fluid, bile. When bile is released from the gallbladder, it is used to help digest food in the small intestine.
Doctors are not sure about the exact cause of gallstone formation, but one possibility may be due to too much cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile, resulting in the formation of crystals and eventually stones. Cholesterol gallstones may also contain other substances.
Another possible reason gallstones may form is due to bile concentration. This can happen if the gallbladder does not empty completely, or if it does not empty enough. When the bile is allowed to collect, gallstones may begin to form.
There are different types of gallstones. The most common type is yellow and contains mostly undissolved cholesterol. Dark brown or black gallstones are attributed to too much bilirubin in the bile. This chemical is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. The liver will produce too much when it has been damaged by cirrhosis, biliary tract infections or with certain blood disorders.
When symptoms are present, gallstones can be quite painful. If you experience intense, increasing pain as mentioned above, contact Dr. Brent J. Michael and schedule an appointment.