When was the last time you thought about your gallbladder? Probably never, right? Well, this little organ that you haven’t thought much about is responsible for releasing bile to help break down food and aid in digestion. If you aren’t dealing with gut problems then you may not even think twice about your gallbladder; however, if your gastroenterologist has told you that you suffer from gallstones, here’s what you should know.
What are the signs of gallstones?
Some people have gallstones but don’t even know it; however, the most common symptoms associated with gallstones are indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. If you have a gallbladder attack, you may experience pain in the upper right or middle of your abdomen below the rib cage. This pain can last for several hours and may be severe.
What are some risk factors for gallstones?
While we still don’t know the exact cause of gallstones, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of dealing with gallstones at some point during your lifetime. Apart from being a woman, here are some other risk factors,
- Being over age 40
- Being obese
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A poor diet that is high in fat
- Being diabetic
- Being pregnant
- High cholesterol
- Family history of gallstones
Is there a way to prevent gallstones in the future?
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have gallstones again, making certain lifestyle changes have proven effective for reducing or getting rid of a gallbladder attack. Talk with your gastroenterologist about ways to improve your lifestyle (e.g. losing excess weight; eating a healthier diet; avoiding alcohol) to lower your risk for gallstones.
How are gallstones treated?
If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then you probably won’t require treatment; however, if you continue to have gallbladder attacks you may want to talk with your gastroenterologist about having your gallbladder removed. Your gallbladder can be removed without it affecting your health or quality of life.
If you would like to avoid surgery your gastroenterologist may recommend a certain medication that can help to break up these stones. This medication can also prevent new gallstones from forming. Sometimes this medication is used along with a soundwave procedure known as lithotripsy, which helps to breakdown gallstones so that they can pass more easily.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gallstones or signs of a dysfunctional gallbladder, you must have a gastroenterologist that you can turn to for immediate care. A gastroenterologist will easily be able to determine what’s causing your digestive issues and provide you with an effective solution.