Regarding your health, being informed and aware is key to avoiding serious complications. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of gallstones is an important part of this awareness—but unfortunately, many people are unaware that these small but potentially dangerous stones even exist in their bodies. Gallstones don’t necessarily present obvious outward signs so you may live with them and not even know it!
What are gallstones, and what are their symptoms?
Gallstones are frustratingly common but rarely welcome - and when they appear, it can be a surprise event. These pesky stones form in the gallbladder - an organ tucked away near the liver - when substances in bile become overly concentrated.
Whether they show symptoms depends on their size and the amount present; gallstones range from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball! If gallstones do display signs, it's typically abdominal pain and indigestion. Of course, gallstone removal might also be recommended by your doctor if you suffer from gallstone-induced attacks.
How do you know if you have gallstones?
Gallstones can cause severe abdominal pain and intense discomfort, so if you are experiencing any such symptoms, it's important to investigate the possibility of gallstones. Your doctor may be able to detect gallstones through physical examination or order an imaging test such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan to identify them more certainly.
Blood tests can also help diagnose gallbladder problems. Even if you don't have any symptoms, taking a proactive approach is wise: as the age-old adage goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"
What are the risks associated with not treating gallstones?
Not treating gallstones can be a risky game. These hard crystals that form in the gallbladder can cause extreme pain, fever, and other discomforts. Other serious symptoms of untreated gallstones may include nausea,jaundice, or pancreatitis.
Additionally, when left untreated for an extended period of time, the buildup of bile in the gallbladder can lead to blockage of one's intestines or intestine damage, as well as other life-threatening complications. Ultimately, if you feel any combination of these symptoms and suspect gallstones, it's best to get analyzed before things get out of your control.
How are gallstones treated?
Managing gallstones typically involves two main treatments: either dissolving them withbile salts or surgically removing the gallbladder. If your stones are small and few, your doctor might prescribe medication to help dissolve them in a process that can take weeks or even months.
However, if these attempts are unsuccessful, then you’ll likely need to schedule surgery to remove the entire gallbladder—something which, fortunately, isn’t as daunting as it might sound.
What is the recovery like after treatment for gallstones?
For those who have experienced gallstone treatment, you’ll be pleased to know that the road to recovery can be smoother than a freshly waxed floor. Most sufferers return to their routine within a short time (typically 10-14 days). Recovery times can vary depending on the procedure type and the patient's condition.
In the immediate days following the surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions for any medications or lifestyle restrictions. One should expect moderate pain upon leaving surgery, but it should dissipate quickly if managed correctly. Symptomatic relief associated with gallstones is swift and effective, so catch some rays and enjoy your newfound freedom!
If you're experiencing symptoms that might be gallstones, it's essential to get medical attention. Schedule an appointment with one of Mississippi Urology Clinic Urologists today to get help keeping your urinary system healthy.