Digestive Fluid Can Solidify into Gallstones

Gallstones are solid deposits that develop in your gallbladder. The gallbladder is the pear-shaped organ in your body that stores a digestive fluid called bile juice. The deposits can be as small as a flour grain or as large as a tennis ball. The balls could be soft or hard, jagged or smooth. Many people already have gallstones in their gallbladder but don’t know. In most cases you might have gallstones and not realize it.

Bile is one of the digestive fluids in your digestive system that is crucial for digesting fats. This juice is produced in the liver and then stored in the gallbladder. When your body needs to digest some fat, bile juice is retrieved from the gallbladder. During this retrieval, your gallbladder contracts and sends the juice through the bile duct tube into the small intestine. In most cases, bile contains fats, water, cholesterol, bile salts, bilirubin, and other proteins. If your bile juice contains too much of any of these substances, it crystallizes, leading to the formation of gallstones.

Why Gallstones Occur

In most cases, gallstones occur as a result of many different causes. Some of the different gallstones and causes include:

  • Pigment Stones - According to research, the particular cause of pigment stones is unknown. However, these stones are associated with people who have liver cirrhosis, infections in the biliary tract. In addition, these stones can develop if you have a family history of blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia, where the production of bilirubin is extremely high.
  • Cholesterol Stones - Cholesterol stones develop from high levels of cholesterol in your bile juice. In addition, they might also develop if your bile contains high levels of bilirubin or little bile salts. If your gallbladder does not empty as it should, you could also develop this problem.
  • Obesity - Obesity being one of the major risk factors, you can develop gallstones if your body mass index – BMI – is extremely high. Essentially, obesity leads to a reduction of bile salts in bile juice. Consequently, this leads to more cholesterol.
  • High Levels of Some Hormones - You can also develop gallstones if you are under hormone therapy, such as birth control pills. Pregnant women are also at risk since their bodies tend to produce high hormonal levels which increase the level of cholesterol in the body.
  • Ethnicity - Research has found that Native Americans are predisposed to produce bile with very high levels of cholesterol. Essentially, most Native American men tend to develop gallstones by 60, while 70 percent develop gallstones by age 30.
  • Gender - Women are more prone to developing gallstones than men. According to research, women between 20 and 60 have a double chance of developing this problem compared to men.
  • Age - Older people – mostly above 60 years – are more prone to gallstones than young people.

Other causes are conditions such as diabetes, lifestyle practices such as fasting, and weight loss.

Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones

A majority of those suffering from gallstones do not experience any particular symptoms. Essentially, this is because the stones in the bladder are mild enough to cause no problems. However, you might experience problems such as:

  • Inflammation of the gallbladder – cholecystitis
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

Obviously, if anyone experiences these symptoms, they should speak with a healthcare professional to help determine if the cause might be gallstones. 

Treatment Options

Normally, you get gallstones treatment if you have gallbladder inflammation or if the stones cause a blockage of your bile duct. The treatment options include:

  1. Cholecystectomy - Essentially, this is the removal of the gallbladder through surgery. Normally, it can either be done as an open surgery or through laparoscopy.
  2. Ursodeoxycholic Acid - People who undergo cholecystectomy are bound to experience gallstones come-back. Therefore, your doctor might recommend this acid to lower the level of cholesterol in your bile. Ursodeoxycholic acid also dissolves gallstones through a treatment called dissolution. This treatment can take up to two years to be effective. Obviously this makes surgery more effective in the short term. 
  3. ERCP - If you have conditions that prevent you from undertaking surgery or Ursodeoxycholic acid, you might have to go through ERCP. Essentially, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography uses an endoscope passed through the mouth and into the digestive system. This endoscope is then guided into the opening of the gallbladder, where the opening is widened. The doctor can empty the gallstones or leave them to drain into the small intestines with a wider opening.
  4. Lithotripsy - This is a non-invasive treatment where the doctor uses shock waves produced from an ultrasonic machine. The waves break up the stones, which allow them to be passed out of the body together with stool.

Fortunately, you can live without the gallbladder. If your gallbladder is removed, the bile flows directly from the liver to the small intestines, where it helps digest fats. Therefore, you should visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment if any of the above-stated symptoms occur.

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.

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