The name of this disease speaks for itself. With gallstone disease, solid formations accumulate in the gallbladder, as well as in its ducts. In medicine, they are called calculi or stones.
Cholelithiasis or calculous cholecystitis is one of the most common diseases in the practice of gastroenterological surgeons. More than half a million surgeries to remove the gallbladder are performed worldwide every year. Most often, only the appendix is operated on for the gallbladder. Today, gallstone disease is diagnosed in every 10 inhabitants of the planet, and Americans and Europeans suffer from this disease more often than Asians. The disease also has gender characteristics. According to observations, women of fertile age are more susceptible to it. After menopause, the likelihood of illness in the weaker and stronger sex is compared. Doctors note that the number of cases is growing, and their age is decreasing. In other words, even very young people can get sick with gallstone disease today.
What is gallstone disease
This is a pathology associated with the gallbladder – an organ-container for collecting bile, which the liver produces for digestion processes.
The composition of bile includes a strictly balanced content of phospholipids, cholesterol, bile acids, bilirubin and salts, and its movement along the biliary tract occurs with the joint work of all digestive organs. When all the components of the general mechanism work harmoniously, bile waits in the gall bladder to be in the intestines at the time of digestion and before it begins.
Cholelithiasis is one of the options for the failure of this system. The disease is associated with metabolic disorders, including an increase in the level of “bad” cholesterol and bilirubin. In the gallbladder and its ducts, the composition of bile changes and the amount of salts increases. As a result, it stagnates, and harmful substances accumulate. Over time, they harden and turn into stones.
Cholelithiasis can be chronic or acute. In the initial phase, the disease does not cause any unpleasant sensations and therefore remains unnoticed for a long time. It can sometimes take years from the initial stage of the disease to the acute and inflammatory phase. Most often, pathology is detected at the stage of calculus formation. Stones can block the passage in the gallbladder and damage its tissues. This is accompanied by attacks of severe colicky pain due to the movement of stones. Sometimes stones, if they are small, can come out on their own, but this feeling is very unpleasant. Physical activity, injury, too hot a bath, or inflammation in the gallbladder can contribute to the release of calculi. Large stones should not be allowed out, as they can clog the ducts, which is very dangerous.
Gallstones are classified according to their shape, size, quantity, and composition. Most often, calculi are formed from cholesterol, bilirubin. These stones are yellow and usually small in size, which makes them easier to treat. Soft and oily in consistency calculi of black or brown color are called pigmented and are less diagnosed. There are also limestone and mixed types of stones. Calcareous calculi can be very large.
Causes of gallstone disease in adults
Gallstone disease is classified as a disease in which it is difficult to determine any one cause. There are several theories of stone formation. According to one of them, the reason is in chronic infections of bile in the lumen of the gallbladder, according to the other, in disorders of cholesterol metabolism, according to the third, in high cholesterol levels against the background of a decrease in the volume of bile acids.
The development of gallstone disease is often preceded by the appearance of a precipitate of cholesterol crystals, calcium salts, bilirubin pigments and other substances against the background of bile stagnation. The flake-like sediment is called biliary sludge. He can disappear by himself and appear again. Over time, the process becomes pathological. Small crystals merge into sticky grains of sand, which harden and form stones.
Any person can develop gallstone disease, but there are a number of factors that increase its risk, these are:
- elderly age;
- genetics – the disease is often inherited;
- improper diet and excess weight;
- violation of lipid metabolism;
- bad habits;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- taking certain medications;
- bacteria and microorganisms in the duodenum or bile ducts;
- cirrhosis of the liver;
- congenital pathologies of the biliary tract;
- pregnancy and hormonal disorders.
Symptoms of gallstone disease in adults
Until the appearance of biliary colic or the development of acute cholecystitis, most patients do not know about cholelithiasis. An uncomfortable posture, junk food or alcohol can provoke an attack in a chronic form. Symptoms of the disease depend on the diameter of the stone and its location. In all cases, this is a sharp paroxysmal pain on the right under the lower ribs, a feeling of heaviness, yellowness and a feeling of a bitter taste in the mouth in the morning. They should also alert:
- diarrhea or constipation, replacing each other;
- high temperature;
- belching or heartburn.
A condition in which the sharp edges of the stones injure the gallbladder, causing it to become inflamed, is called cholecystitis. Acute cholecystitis can be suspected if the attack does not subside within 6 hours, the pain intensifies and spreads to the entire abdominal cavity, patients have fever, vomiting and vomiting.
Against the background of gallstone disease, complications such as cholangitis, choledocholithiasis and obstructive jaundice may develop. In this case, the symptoms will be mostly similar. When stones get into the bile ducts – choledocholithiasis – patients have discolored feces, dark urine, brown plaque on the tongue, and repeated vomiting does not bring relief to the patient. In such cases, a person needs to be urgently hospitalized in a hospital.