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Cholelithiasis is the presence of stones inside the gallbladder due to the accumulation of bilirubin or cholesterol at the site, which causes obstruction of the bile duct and can lead to the appearance of some symptoms, such as pain in the stomach, back, vomiting and excessive sweating, for example.
It is important that in the presence of signs and symptoms suggestive of cholelithiasis, the gastroenterologist or general practitioner is consulted so that an evaluation and diagnosis can be made, which may involve performing an ultrasound or abdominal computed tomography.
In case the gallstones cannot be eliminated naturally, the doctor may recommend the use of medications that stimulate their elimination or surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Symptoms of cholelithiasis
Although in most cases cholelithiasis has no symptoms, when the stones cause obstruction of the bile ducts they can cause symptoms such as:
- Pain or cramps in the gallbladder region;
- Stomach pain that radiates to the ribs, back, or the rest of the abdomen;
- Sensation of general malaise;
Symptoms may start about half an hour to an hour after meals or suddenly, sometimes during the night, varying in intensity and duration, with pain for several days.
In addition, the pain can be more intense and last longer, when complications such as inflammation of the gallbladder, bile ducts or pancreas occur, and other symptoms such as fever and yellow eyes and skin may also appear. Learn about other symptoms of gallstones.
Symptom online test
To know your risk of having cholelithiasis, select the symptoms presented in the following test:
- 1.Severe pain in the right side of the belly up to 1 hour after eating Yes No
- 2.Fever above 38º C Yes No
- 3.Yellowish eye or skin color Yes No
- 4.Constant diarrhea Yes No
- 5.Feeling sick or vomiting, especially after eating Yes No
- 6.Loss of appetite Yes No
Make an appointment with a specialist
Cholelithiasis can happen as a result of some situations, the main ones being:
- Excess cholesterol: cholesterol in bile cannot be eliminated and ends up accumulating and forming gallstones;
- Too much bilirubin: happens when there are liver or blood problems, leading to high bilirubin production;
- Very concentrated bile: happens when the gallbladder cannot eliminate its contents properly, which makes the bile very concentrated and favors the formation of gallstones.
These situations can happen as a result of obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high-fat diet and diabetes, in addition to cirrhosis or the use of certain medications, such as birth control pills.
How the treatment is done
In most cases, cholelithiasis causes no symptoms and the stones are eliminated on their own, requiring no treatment. However, when the stones are very large and get stuck in the bile ducts, treatment by a gastroenterologist may be necessary, such as using shock waves or gallstone medications such as ursodiol, which help to destroy and dissolve the stone, eliminating it through the feces.
Surgery to remove the gallbladder, scientifically known as cholecystectomy, is the most frequent and effective treatment, indicated when the person has symptoms and can be done classically, through a cut in the belly, or laparoscopic surgery, where instruments used in surgery enter the belly through small incisions made in the belly. Check out the treatment options for gallstones.
How to eat
Food is very important to treat cholelithiasis, because consumption of foods with fat can worsen the symptoms of gallstones. Thus, the person should consult a nutritionist so that they can recommend the best diet, being essential to avoid the consumption of foods rich in fat, such as fried foods, sausages, fatty meats and snacks.