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What is cholelithiasis? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies?
What is cholelithiasis? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies? Cholelithiasis is a condition in which stones develop in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ present below your liver. Its main function is to sequester cholesterol and convert it into bile acids. This bile then flows to your intestine to help in fat digestion.
Some inflammatory states cause the salts within the bile ducts to precipitate and form crystals. These crystals aggregate to shape into stones. Moreover, stones may also develop if you have high cholesterol in your blood.
In this article, you’ll learn more about cholelithiasis, its clinical treatments, and home remedies.
More on Cholelithiasis
Gallstones or cholelithiasis are hardened deposits of the bile fluid flowing from the gallbladder to the bile ducts. Almost 20 million Americans are affected with cholelithiasis. Gallstones may be asymptomatic or cause severe symptoms, including pain. Once gallstones are formed within the gallbladder, they may inflame the surrounding tissues. Certain complications such as cholecystitis, choledocholithiasis, and rarely cholangiocarcinoma.1
Etiologies of Cholelithiasis
Most of the gallstones are made from cholesterol. However, certain gallstones may also form due to precipitation of calcium salts and bilirubin. Gallstones form due to:
- Excessive cholesterol in your bile
- Excessive bilirubin your bile
- Very much concentrated bile formation by gallbladder
Why the above-listed mechanisms occur is not yet known? However, studies show that certain factors do trigger gallstone formation:
- Obesity and weight
- Use of certain drugs such as estrogen supplements2
Symptoms of Cholelithiasis
The very obvious symptom of cholelithiasis is severe pain in the right upper abdomen. On the basis and type of pain in cholelithiasis, the pain is called biliary colic. Eating high-fat meals increase gallstone formation and increase the severity of pain. In addition to this, there are also several other symptoms that patients experience:
- Foul-smelling feces
- Pale colored Skin
- Greasy fecal matter
- Stomach pain
- Dark-colored urine
Asymptomatic cholelithiasis: In some cases, the patient possesses gallstones within his gallbladder. However, he does not experience any sort of symptom or pain. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 80 percent of the patients have cholelithiasis in silent form.3 This means that they don’t experience any symptoms.
In cases of silent cholelithiasis, your doctor may discover gallstones during an abdominal X-ray or MRI.
Clinical Treatments of Cholelithiasis
Fortunately, cholelithiasis is a treatable condition. Gallstones that are silent and do not cause any symptoms do not need any immediate treatment rather certain remedies can be done to dissolve them and prevent future gallstones. Symptomatic gallstones, however, need appropriate clinical treatment.
Possible clinical options include:
- Symptomatic Treatments: Med
- Medications that dissolve gallstones: Certain medications are available that dissolve the gallstones, and these drugs are taken orally. Although medications dissolve stones, yet this method of treatment takes months to years to properly remove stones.
- Cholecystectomy: If the gallstones are very big and are causing severe pain, your doctor may recommend a surgery that involves the removal of your gallbladder out of your body. Once your gallbladder is removed, a system is made in which bile goes to intestines directly from liver rather than being stored and concentrated in the gallbladder.
You might be thinking that whether you can live without gallbladder or not. Yes, certainly, you live. It is because you don’t necessarily need gallbladder to live.4
Home Remedies for Cholelithiasis
Certain proven remedies are effective in the prevention of gallstones. These home remedies are explained below:
- Drinking plenty of water: It is scientifically proven that drinking lots of water help prevent gallstone formation. It is because water helps in the dilution of bile.
- Yoga: Researches show that doing yoga aids in passing gallstones out of the biliary tract into the intestine from where it can be defecated out of the body.
- Loss of weight: Get a proper schedule for your meals and exercises for weight loss. Most importantly, this weight loss must be done slowly. Rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstones.
- Include high fiber in diet: Including high fiber in your diet helps to prevent gallstones formation.5
There’s a little research and information on the efficacy of natural treatments for gallstones. However, medications are available to dissolve gallstones and also to prevent the symptoms. Gallstones are easily treated with surgery. Surgery is always a permanent solution for gallstones. It Is because gallstones can return even after medications have dissolved gallstones. As surgery is an invasive procedure, have an open and detailed discussion with your doctor prior to your decision of surgery. In addition to this, you won’t need any kind of treatment for silent cholelithiasis, which does not cause symptoms in the patient. Instead, the doctor would recommend some lifestyle modifications in order to prevent future complications.
1. Makin, E. & Davenport, M. Cholelithiasis. in Surgery of the Liver, Bile Ducts and Pancreas in Children, Third Edition 109–117 (CRC Press, 2017). doi:10.1201/9781315113791.
2. Reshetnyak, V. I. Concept of the pathogenesis and treatment of cholelithiasis. World J. Hepatol. 4, 18–34 (2012).
3. Gallstones in Women - American College of Gastroenterology. https://gi.org/topics/gallstones-in-women/.
4. Gallstones - NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gallstones/.
5. Gallstones | American Gastroenterological Association. https://gastro.org/practice-guidance/gi-patient-center/topic/gallstones/.