Gall stones – causes, symptoms, people at risk, treatment,and recommended diets!

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This disease is due to the presence of calculi or stones in the gall bladder or bile duct. These stony masses are composed mainly of cholesterol, their formation is due to chemical changes in the composition of bile that leads to precipitation and stone formation. Hence, gall stones are due to the production of abnormal bile by the liver.
The calculi or stony masses formed obstructs the flow of bile and also increases gall bladder infections, liver and bile ducts. Apart from the gall stones formed from cholesterol, PIGMENT gallstones exist.Pigments are formed from the waste product formed from haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying chemical in the red blood cells. The haemoglobin eliminated from older red blood cells that are being destroyed is changed to a chemical known as BILURUBIN and released to the blood. The liver then modifies the bilurubin and secretes it into the bile; disorders in this case may cause bilurubin to form stony masses.

People at risk
Certain people are more likely to form gallstones, and the list below specifies them :

* Gallstones mostly occur in WOMEN
* Age also determines people at risk, the older a person is, the more likely to form gallstones
* Obese individuals are at a higher risk of forming gallstones
* Pregnant women, as pregnancy increases the risk for cholesterol gallstones increases7
* Individuals with Crohn’s disease are also more likely to develop gallstones
* Individuals with a rapid weight loss can easily accompany gallstone formations.

Symptoms of gall stones
At first gall stones shows little or no symptom which can go unnoticed /undetected. It usually has a silent effect during the early stage of the disease, its symptom usually appears when its getting more serious.
The main symptom of gallstones is
* BILIARY COLIC – Biliary colic is a severe pain that is felt usually in the center of the middle abdomen, below the sternum and at the upper side. Less serious biliary colic can take up to 15 minutes of severe pain, but more serious /chronic biliary colic can take as high as 4-5 hours of severe pain.

Treatment of gall stones
The stony masses or calculi can be dissolved by a bile acid, thus, treatment can be by Oral intake of a bile acid. Some calculi or stony masses don’t dissolve even with the addition of a bile acid, hence, the need for surgical operation arises.

In addition to the above treatment, certain diets help in preventing the formation of gall stones, an increase in the intake of


can be effective in preventing the growth of calculi or stony masses.
Certain foods contributes towards the production of calculi, and thus, must be reduced or completely eliminated, they include


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Abbati is a student from the department of Biological sciences, Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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