I re­cently had a scan which showed up, to my sur­prise, that I have a gall­stone. I have never had any symp­toms or prob­lems. Do I need to do any­thing about it?

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - ADVICE -

The gall blad­der is a pear-shaped gland that sits be­low the liver in the right side of the ab­domen. It stores a sub­stance called bile, which helps us di­gest fats in our diet. Gall­stones form when liq­uid stored in the gall­blad­der hard­ens into peb­ble like ma­te­rial. They can vary in size from small bits of grit to as large as a golf ball. Peo­ple may have one or sev­eral gall­stones. Gall­stones are very com­mon and are thought to oc­cur in 10 to 15pc of the adult pop­u­la­tion.

Women are twice as likely to de­velop gall­stones as men. They are more com­mon in those over 60. High oe­stro­gen con­di­tions such as preg­nancy, the con­tra­cep­tive pill or us­ing HRT in­crease the risk. Obesity is a ma­jor risk fac­tor for gall­stones, as is a diet high in fat and low in fi­bre. Con­versely, fast­ing and rapid weight loss can also in­crease the risk. Gall­stones may run in fam­i­lies and are more com­mon in those with di­a­betes.

When gall­stones act up, they cause pain, usu­ally in the up­per ab­domen. This may be felt in the back or in the shoul­der also. These at­tacks of­ten fol­low fatty meals. If there is a block­age or in­fec­tion in the gall­blad­der the pain may last longer. There may be a fever, nau­sea and vom­it­ing, pale-coloured stool and jaun­dice (yel­low­ish colour­ing of the skin and eyes) may oc­cur. These symp­toms usu­ally re­quire ad­mis­sion to hos­pi­tal.

Gall­stones only re­quire treatment if they are symp­to­matic. De­spite the fact that so many peo­ple have gall­stones, it is es­ti­mated that ev­ery year only about 1pc to 4pc of these will de­velop symp­toms re­lated to them. If you had the scan be­cause of bouts of ab­dom­i­nal pain, then treatment may be war­ranted, but if your gall­stones are not caus­ing any symp­toms, it is per­fectly OK to let them be.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.