It's amazing how our body functions like a well oiled machine, isn't it? Day in and day out, performing all its activities without fail, unless something begins to go wrong. Even then, it tries to perform as well as it can, until it simply cannot take it any more. Such is the case with the gallbladder and gallstones. The gallbladder, the tiny little pear shaped, pouch like structure that is situated above the liver, can fall prey to a very discomforting and sometimes very dangerous situation, if it develops gallstones. What are gallstones and what are the types of gallstones are some questions that this HealthHearty article will answer for you.
What are Gallstones?
In order to know what the types of gallstones are, we first need to be introduced to what gallstones are. Gallstones are formed by the solidification of cholesterol or the pigments that are present in the bile in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is the organ which contains and preserves bile. Bile is the fluid that helps our body digest and absorb fats easily into our body. This bile contains a lot of components, most prominent of which are cholesterol, bile salts and a pigment called bilirubin. When any of the above, for any reason get solidified, they begin to block the common bile duct (the duct from which the bile is introduced into the small intestine for the digestion of fats). This makes the digestion difficult and the 'stones' get further hardened. The presence of gallstones can become evident if the person exhibits the signs and symptoms of gallstones mentioned here. Have a look.
What are the Types of Gallstones?
Now that we know what gallstones are, let us proceed towards the types of gallbladder stones. They are fundamentally of just two types: cholesterol and pigment stones. However, there are also two other types, which are extremely rare.
Combination Stones: It is fairly obvious by the name that these type of stones have a combination of two substances. Cholesterol and bile salts, when combined and hardened, form little pieces of combination stones. This type of gallstones is the most commonly found one, and comprises almost 80% of the gallstones that people get.
Pigment Stones: As mentioned earlier, bile consists of a pigment called bilirubin. When this pigment gets calcified (solidified), it forms small hard pieces that resemble stones. These are made of calcium bilirubinate. Pigment stones account for about 14% of gallstones type.
Cholesterol Stones: Many people are often mistaken and confuse combination stones with pure cholesterol stones. This is probably because the level of cholesterol is high in the combination stones, compared to the bile salts in them. However, there is another type of gallstone that is made up of only pure cholesterol. This is not a very commonly found type of gallstone, and accounts for the remaining 6% of gallstones that form in people.
Calcium Carbonate: The last and extremely rare type of gallstones is the one which is formed when the bile releases excess amounts of calcium from it. The excess calcium hardens and forms calcium carbonate. These gallstones have many sides, come in a pale gray color, and are radiopaque (do not allow X-rays to penetrate through them).
In order to treat any type of gallstones mentioned above, you need to get them diagnosed. If you experience the symptoms, then it is important to consult a doctor. There are options like trying out gallbladder diets to flush out the gallstones naturally. However, if allowed to grow, the gallstones can grow even up to 3 cm in size and may need surgical removal. So, take the necessary steps, if you think you may be affected by gallstones in order to live a healthy life.