Gallstones: Can They Be Ignored?

The gallbladder is a tiny part of the body most people never think twice about. After all, when it does its job, there’s really no reason to consider it. This little sac is designed to store and release bile into the body during the digestive process. It is essentially tasked with making the digestion of fats flow a little more smoothly. When it performs as expected, the gallbladder is easy to ignore. If something goes wrong, however, discomfort and pain are likely.

Gallstones are the most common gallbladder-related concern that can arise. These form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. Essentially, excess cholesterol promotes the formation of crystals that clump together to create the stones. If left unchecked, the stones can impede the flow of bile and cause a fair amount of pain in the process. Bouts of pain are known as gallbladder attacks. Other complications may arise, as well. As bile becomes trapped in the gallbladder thanks to those gallstones, it can lead to inflammation, which can cause a host of other problems.

Gallstones that don’t cause symptoms or interfere with digestion are generally not a cause for action. If symptoms, such as pain, vomiting and nausea occur, doctors will generally recommend the removal of the gallbladder itself. This involves a surgical procedure that is generally performed laparoscopically. Once the gallbladder is out of the body, the pain associated with attacks should go away. The good news is that people can lead long, healthy lives without a gallbladder.

Gallstones are not a reason for alarm. If they form without symptoms, it is generally okay to leave them in place. Should pain, discomfort or inflammation go along with their arrival, medical intervention is a wise choice to prevent complications.

People who suspect they have gallbladder-related pain should speak with a healthcare provider. The best recommendation will come from a physician with information about the particular case.

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