The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile produced by the liver. Bile is essential for the digestion of fats, and the gallbladder stores the bile before passing it to the small intestine through ducts. Gallstones are not stones but cholesterol and other deposits that have hardened in the gallbladder. Most people who have gallstones don’t realize the condition, and in majority of cases, gallstones don’t need any treatment. Gallstones can be as small as sand grains or can be big like a golf ball. In some cases, the gallstones may stop the movement of bile by blocking one of the ducts, which can create a few complications. Before we talk of the diagnosis, here’s a quick glance at the symptoms.
Symptoms of gallstones
As mentioned earlier, gallstones don’t have any symptoms in most cases. However, some people do face a few complications related to the condition. More commonly, patients complain of pain around the upper right part of the chest, while others have pain just below the breast bone. The pain can be severe at times and can last for hours in some cases. Patients with gallstones also admit to have more pain while eating. Since this happens because the gallstones are blocking the bile duct, the pain may linger longer on certain days. Other signs include fever and chills, while some patients also have jaundice-like symptoms, including changed skin color. Experts of United Surgical Partners International recommend seeing a doctor as soon as pain starts, especially when the patient is unsure of the cause.
Most people with gallstones visit doctors for abdomen pain. In case you have pain in part of the abdomen, your doctor will ask a few questions, and based on your answers, he may suggest an ultrasound to find gallstones. If the gallstones are too small, the ultrasound may not show the same. In such cases, your doctor will suggest a second test known as the “gallbladder scan”. Many women come to know about gallstones when they go for an ultrasound for pregnancy.
If you have no abdominal pain or complications, you don’t need any treatment. The doctor will observe if you have frequent pain attacks, and if that happens more than a few times, he may suggest removing the gallbladder. The surgery is generally safe, but you will need around two weeks before you can get back to your normal routine and work life.