Gallbladder Stones & Gallstones Treatment in Ellicott City, MD
Your gallbladder, the organ located beneath your liver, is responsible for storing bile. Gallstones are crystalized deposits that form in your gallbladder as the result of cholesterol or bilirubin (a fluid your liver makes) buildup in your bile. Gallbladder stones may begin to form as the result of factors pertaining to your weight and diet. When your diet is high in cholesterol and rich in fats, your bile is unable to dissolve these materials fast enough and hard stones begin to form. They range in size but can grow to the size of a golf ball.
There are two main types of gallstones:
- Cholesterol Stones: Yellow-green in color, cholesterol stones are the most common of gallbladder stones
- Pigment Stones: Smaller and darker, these stones form when there is too much bilirubin in your bile
You may also develop mixed gallstones, a combination of cholesterol and pigment stones.
If not treated promptly, this can cause extreme gallbladder pain and usually requires gallbladder and gallstone surgery to remove them. You should see your healthcare provider about any symptoms of gallstones you are experiencing to prevent a serious gallbladder attack. Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Ellicott City that can treat your gallbladder stones or discuss foods to avoid. Call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
Am I at Risk for Gallstones?
In addition to a history of dietary mishaps that may put you at a higher risk of developing gallstones, there are a number of other factors that can influence your chances:
- Losing weight quickly
- Age: People over the age of 40 are more likely of developing gallstones
- Gender: If you are a woman, you may have a higher chance of developing gallstones than men
- Crohn's disease
- Metabolic syndrome or diabetes
Though gallstone symptoms can be silent and generally undetectable, some gallbladder stones symptoms to keep an eye out for are:
- Persistent pain in your upper abdomen and upper back
- Digestive problems
If you experience abdominal pain that lasts more than 5 hours, a high fever or yellowing of your skin, you should seek medical help immediately. You may be experiencing a gallstone attack.
Prevent Gallstones with your Diet
While there is no way to guarantee the prevention of gallstones, there are ways to reduce the possibility of developing them—and doing so comes down to lifestyle choices:
Eat a balanced diet: Constantly eating greasy foods high in cholesterol increases the likelihood of developing gallstones. Limiting these types of foods for special occasions while replacing them with healthy choices can help cleanse your gallbladder and reduce your chances for developing gallstones. Some choices include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean meat, poultry and fish
- Low-fat dairy products
- Don't skip meals: Skipping meals can have a negative effect on your metabolism and how your body processes foods.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water to maintain proper water content in your bile is essential for overall system health.
- Exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce your chances of developing gallstones.
If your healthcare provider detects signs of gallstones, he or she will likely use an abdominal ultrasound to uncover gallstones in your gallbladder as well as any other problems within your gallbladder or bile ducts.
There are two common treatments for gallstones: medication and surgery. If your gallbladder stones are relatively benign, they can eventually dissolve with medication—this may take as long as two years. If your gallstones are severe, surgery to remove your gallbladder may be your healthcare provider’s course of action. Although the gallbladder serves a function in storing bile, it is not essential for digestion and can be removed. The gallbladder can be removed through open or laparoscopic surgery.
It is important to discuss gallstones with your healthcare provider to ensure proper gallstones treatment. To schedule a consultation with a gallstone specialist in Ellicott City that can perform gallbladder surgery for gallstone removal or to discuss healthy dietary choices to avoid developing them, call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
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