A four-year old scientific study revealed that a certain gene mutation among Indian population makes them vulnerable to the gallstones. In this article, we aim to shed more light on the causes, symptoms and treatment of gallstones to help you make informed and timely decisions.
About the Gallbladder
Gallbladder is a small organ located under the liver which stores bile and release it to the small intestine to aid digestion of food that we consume. Bile is made of various substances like cholesterol, pigments like bilirubin and other bile salts. The constituents of bile harden and precipitate to form crystalline particles called gallstones. Almost 80% of gallstones are due to solidification of cholesterol and the remaining 20% is due to pigments.
On an average the incidence of gallstones is 6% among the total population of our country with a rate of 10% among women and 3% of men.
Elderly people are more prone to the condition occurring in about 20% of older generation. A study by the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG), Hyderabad in 2010 published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that a gene mutation in the liver is responsible for excess production of cholesterol into bile, leading to the formation of gallstones.
Apart from genetics, the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, rapid weight loss and cholesterol-lowering drugs also puts the Indians at risk. Pregnancy, long-term consumption of birth control pills and hormonal-replacement therapy (HRT) causes increase in the levels of estrogens which produces excessive cholesterol in bile.
How will you know you have gallstones?
Well, most of the gallstones are silent ones.
That is to say, they may or may not show any symptoms. It is surprising that most patients come to know they have gallstones by accident when they actually go for another medical examination. Very few ones experience pain on the right side of the abdomen which is the first sign.
This pain, which may last for few minutes to hours, generally starts few hours after eating meals. It could be accompanied by indigestion, bloating, heartburn, nausea or vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them because it could lead to other serious conditions like pancreatitis, obstructive jaundice or even gall bladder cancer. Seek medical advice.
There are high chances of recurrent gallstones therefore gallstones are treated with surgical removal of gallbladder which is usually done using laparoscopic procedures, charging about Rs. 35,000.
Don’t be astounded when your doctor suggest this – gallbladder is an essential organ but not indispensable. Our bodies can function perfectly fine without gallbladder too. Bile will flow directly into intestine from liver, instead of getting stored in the gallbladder. There will be slight changes in the way our food is digested which you’ll hardly even notice. Exercise regularly as well as consume less sugar and more fibres and fluids to reduce the frequency and intensity of pain due to gallstones.
Credihealth has tie-ups with all the leading hospitals in India! Click here for a list of top doctors dealing with stones.