Gallstones affect the digestive health of as many as 25 million people in the United States. To confirm the presence of gallstones, the medical team at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland in New City, New York, offers on-site diagnostics including ultrasounds and ERCP testing. Find out more about your options for treating gallstones and protecting your digestive health by scheduling an evaluation today online or by phone.
Your gallbladder is a small organ beneath your liver that stores bile to aid in digestion. You can develop gallstones when too much cholesterol is present in your bile, which hardens and can cause obstructions in your gallbladder.
Gallstones can also form from bilirubin, a chemical your liver produces as it destroys old red blood cells. When your body produces too much bilirubin due to liver damage or a blood disorder, and can’t break down the excess amount, gallstones can form.
If not treated properly, gallstones can block the ducts that lead to your small intestine. This blockage can lead to inflammation and cause bile to build up, resulting in biliary disease.
The hallmark symptom of gallstones is pain in the upper right side of your abdomen. This pain can worsen when you eat high-fat foods, and you may also develop symptoms like:
To prevent additional health complications, including biliary disease, you need to schedule diagnostic testing as soon as possible.
To confirm whether gallstones are the cause of your symptoms, your Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland physician may recommend an ultrasound to see the internal structures of your abdomen.
You may also need an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure that involves a camera and X-ray technology to identify issues in the pancreatic and bile ducts, including gallstone obstructions.
In many cases, small gallstones that don’t cause you any pain will pass through your body naturally, without you even noticing. Your Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland doctor can also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent new gallstones from forming, such as:
You may also benefit from taking supplements like vitamin C, lecithin, and iron to further reduce your risk for new gallstones. Your doctor can discuss the right dosages based on your overall health.
Gallstones that cause chronic or severe pain may require surgery. You may also need surgery to remove gallstones that cause an obstruction in your digestive system.
If the persistent pain of gallstones is interfering with your life, schedule a consultation with the experts at Gastrointestinal Associates of Rockland today by phone or by using the online booking feature.