The gall bladder can often be a source of intense pain for millions of people every day, and most of them don't even know why they are in pain. The most common cause of this pain is gallstones built up through poor diet and high cholesterol, which eventually cause blockages in the biliary system. Fortunately there are several easy ways in which the pain can be relieved, as well as avoided in the first place.
The gall bladder is basically a storage place for bile produced by the liver which is used when food is broken down. Stones form for a number of reasons, although usually it is thought that they occur because of poor diet and being overweight. Also statistically you are more likely to suffer from gallstones if you are a female, over the age of forty and are white. This suggests that either the body chemistry or typical diet of this particular group make them more at risk.
The medical name for gallstones is choleliths, and they are usually either formed from cholesterol, bilirubin or calcium salts, although can be a mixture of all three. They can be anywhere from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball, as well as which there is often more then one of them. The pain they cause is usually when bile is injected from the duct into the small intestine, and the stones are blocking its path.
The pain from gallstones usually occurs after a large meal, and usually lasts for between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. The fastest way to alleviate pain if you are at home is simply to drink a glass of water when the pain begins. This does not work for everyone, although many people find this alleviates at least some of the pain as the bile release is regulated better by the water.
For many people, lowering the cholesterol in their diet is a good way to stop gall bladder pain from happening, as well as trying to lose weight. This usually tends to stop gall bladder pain because it also stops stones from forming and causing any blockages. In some cases however, if there are already a lot of stones in the gall bladder, then this method might not be enough to always keep the pain at bay.
If the stones are already present, then treating them is a lot easier than simply trying to keep the pain at bay or reducing it when it occurs. Ursodeoxycholic acid is one such treatment, which is orally taken to slowly dissolve the gallstones that have already formed. This is usually effective, although it can take time to work, and of course after you have stopped taking it, the stones can form again.
There are several different alternative therapies that some people use to treat gall stones which tend to have varying levels of success. The first of which is a program of drinking apple juice and taking magnesium supplements whilst fasting. Also increasingly popular are a number of different mixtures sold by health companies designed for detoxifying the bile system.
Some of the other alternative therapies tend to be more along the lines of taking supplements to your diet. These are things such as ginger, peppermint, many different fruits etc. Also drinking coffee is thought to be good for preventing gall stones because bitter tasting foods are thought to stimulate the release of bile.
Surgery is another option that tends to have a much higher rate of success than the other options as well. Cholecystectomy is the removal of the gall bladder, which can be done either through keyhole or open surgery. This is usually always effective in getting rid of the stones, although there are sometimes complications from not having a gall bladder after the surgery.
The other option that many people tend to go for is to have lithotripsy, or to give it its full name extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. This is where ultrasonic shock waves are concentrated on the stones inside the body, causing them to crumble into tiny harmless pieces. These tiny pieces are then usually flushed out of the system altogether through the feces. This treatment is only used with a small number of gallstones however.