Cholelithiasis is the presence of stones in the gallbladder. The condition frequently affects women over the age of 40 years. Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing the condition, especially if the pregnancy is associated with gestational diabetes. Over three fourth of all gall bladder stones pass into the duodenum without any complications.
About 75% of gall stones are made of cholesterol, while the remaining are pigmented stones. The stones may be pigmented black in color (usually containing calcium) when they oxidize or may be brown in color, when associated with a bacteria or a parasite.
Occasionally sterile gall stones may also be found in individuals suffering from hemolysis due to sickle cell anemia or liver cirrhosis. Reports suggest that the prevalence of the condition is about 1.4 per 1000 population. The prevalence is relatively higher in pregnant women or women who have undergone multiple child births.
Causes Of Cholelithiasis
Gall bladder is an important part of the gastrointestinal system and its primary function is to store bile and release it after the food enters the duodenum.
Reduced mobility of the gall bladder can result in formation of bile stones due to bile stasis. The other common causative factor is biliary tract infection. Other risk factors include,
- High calorie diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Type II Diabetes Mellitus
- Gastric Bypass surgery
- Rapid and unexplained weight loss.
- Family history of Cholelithiasis.
- Reduced levels of Low Density Lipoproteins.
- Somatostatin secreting tumors in the pituitary gland.
How To Diagnose Cholelithiasis?
The clinical history is often indicative of cholelithiasis. The unique symptom associated with the condition is pain radiating from the right part of the abdomen to the lower back which is triggered after a meal. Physical examination helps confirm the diagnosis.
The diagnostic tool most preferred to detect cholelithiasis is an abdominal ultrasound, which has a sensitivity rate of about 90%. In the remainder of the cases, MRCP (Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography) is used to confirm the diagnosis.
Even with advanced diagnostic tools, the false negative rate is about 5%, especially if the stones are small or surrounded by fluid. Since gas in the ileus can obliterate clear view of the stones, usually laxatives are prescribed prior to the tests.
Diet And Natural Cure For Cholelithiasis
Here are some dietary tips that can help in the management of cholelithiasis,
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol.
- Limit the intake of high calorie foods including refined and processed carbohydrates. Limit the intake of fats, especially transfats. Include high fiber foods in your diet. Include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains in the diet. Avoid dairy and meat products.
- Don’t overeat. Consume small quantities of food at frequent intervals.
- A diet to manage optimum weight is crucial, since sudden and unexplained weight loss is linked with gall stones.
Dietary modifications are very useful in the management of the condition; however there are certain natural treatment options that are considered beneficial,
- Homeopathic drugs namely Chelidonium are very useful in the treatment of gall stones. The drug is prescribed by doctors in required potency for a couple of weeks.
- Milk Thistle and Dandelion are bitter substances which trigger the production of bile. Increasing the quantity of bile juices helps reduce the concentration and helps in flushing out the stones.