Having gallstones, or what some refer to as “galls” or “gallbladder stones,” is actually pretty common. In fact, about one fifth of Americans have them without any issues. Gallstones only become problematic when they grow too large or too many develop in your gallbladder. They may also block the bile duct and prevent bile from exiting the gallbladder. When bile and digestive enzymes get trapped in the duct, inflammation can occur. This inflammation can lead to severe pain, infection, and organ damage.
So, What are Gallstones?
Gallbladder stones are solid particles that form from bile cholesterol or bilirubin in the gallbladder. Cholesterol stones, which form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile, are the most common type of gallstones in the US. Pigment stones form from excess bilirubin in the bile.
How Can I Tell if I Have a Gallstone Problem?
If you’re having complications from Gallbladder stones, you might feel pain in your upper right abdomen. You might also feel pain radiating to your shoulders and back. It’s not unusual for this pain to wake you up at night. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, bloating, and jaundice. The onset of symptoms, called “attacks,” typically happen 30 minutes after eating a fatty or greasy meal.
If you’re having unbearable abdominal pain or any of the aforementioned symptoms, go to the nearest emergency room or call your doctor. It may or may not be gallstones, but it is always best to double check. Most emergency rooms have radiology and imaging services on site to diagnose the problem. They can perform an ultrasound or other imaging, like a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) to confirm if your symptoms are related to gallstones.
How Do I Treat Gallbladder Stones?
There are medications you can take to dissolve the gallstones, but they typically don’t work efficiently. Gallstones are known to return if the medication is stopped. If your gallstone attacks occur frequently, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder. Without a gallbladder, bile will flow directly from the liver to the small intestine.
Could you be having symptoms of a Gallbladder Stones attack but are not quite sure? Standalone emergency rooms, like Hospitality Health ER, have onsite imaging and radiology to assess your problem. Walk into our Tyler, Longview, or Galveston, Texas locations for top-rated ER care.