A very common yet curable condition is gallstones – something that can occur when bile contains too much cholesterol. The good news is, gallstones are easy to spot, and simple to treat. However, it’s important to be aware of the various symptoms for gallstones, as gallstones can turn into a serious problem if gone untreated.

To understand how to treat gallstones, it helps to know what the condition consists of, and to understand the basic function of your gall bladder. Your gall bladder – a small, muscular sac situated underneath your liver – holds stored bile produced by your liver, and releases this bile into the small intestine as we eat. Bile aids in digestion – primarily of fats – within the small intestine.

A problem with gallstones occurs when there’s a complete or partial blockage in the flow of bile to the small intestine – thus prompting the gallbladder to squeeze hard in order to dislodge the gallstone. The result is usually pain in the upper abdomen – usually more prominent on the right side – sometimes accompanied by vomiting. The pain most commonly lasts a few hours, but it can go away in just a few minutes.

Symptoms of gallstones can also vary significantly, as gallstones can occur in different sizes. They can be as small as a grain of sand, or larger – similar to the size of a pea. Serious gallstones can even be as large as to fill the gall bladder. Symptoms such as pain are largely dependent on the size of a gallstone, and many people who experience small gallstones might not even be aware that they have the condition.

If spotted promptly, gallstones are simple to treat. However, if left untreated, gallstones can lead to infection. Once the gallbladder is inflamed and begins to get infected, symptoms develop exceptionally fast, and can result in severe pain. A doctor will usually run a blood test and ultrasound scan in order to diagnose gallstones – sometimes even requiring an endoscopy. Once gallstones are detected, they’re often removed via a keyhole surgical procedure called cholecystectomy. However, for more serious gallstones, the gallbladder often has to be fully removed through a larger cut in the abdomen. For less serious gallstones, medication will often be prescribed to encourage dissolving of the gallstone.

Many people want to know if gallstones can be prevented – and the answer is yes. Diet has a lot to do with the formation of gallstones – so keeping to a high-fiber, low fat diet can significantly help in the prevention of gallstones in the gallbladder. Being overweight also increases one’s chances of developing gallstones, as there is usually more cholesterol in the bile. So, trying to maintain a healthy weight is also crucial to preventing gallstones.

Ultimately, gallstones are easy to spot and diagnose, simple to treat, and fairly easy to prevent – but it’s vital that symptoms do not go ignored. It’s always crucial to speak with your doctor if you experience pain or suspect you might have gallstones, in order to prompt appropriate treatment.

Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.