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Jan 13, 2011

Healthy Living takes a closer look at gallstones

Gallstones are caused by unbalanced diets and malfunctioning gallbladders. It is a condition that is prevalent but many people hardly know they have it. Interestingly, the northern districts are showing the largest number of cases and it is affecting the female population. Healthy Living has more on this topic.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

People who have gallstones may live their life and never know they have the condition.  Some populations are much more prone to developing stones in their gallbladder and often times don’t know it. Gastroenterologist, Dr Irvin Gabourel, sheds light on our more vulnerable populations in Belize.

Doctor Irvin Gabourel, Gastroenterologist & Endoscopist

Irvin Gabourel

“These are very prevalent in the world we could say ten to twenty percent of the patients in the United States are said to suffer from gall stones. In Belize we don’t really have exact figures but we know it’s a very common condition and I may add to that we have much more cases in the north than we do in any other part of the country people from orange walk and Corozal usually suffer a lot from gall stones so we usually here of a lot of surgeries up there.”

Diet and malfunctioning gallbladders are often the culprits.

Doctor Irvin Gabourel

“Our diets are rich in fat and if our body doesn’t have the right mechanisms to break down that fat stones will start to precipitate or it will start to arise from that faulty mechanism.  We know that males are less frequent to have gall stones than females and usually we apply the four F’s for good remembering: female, forty, family and fat.”

Gabourel points out that quite often stones are diagnosis during a checkup for other conditions. This is because of the lack of symptoms associated with gallstones.

Doctor Irvin Gabourel

“The majority of people who have gall stones will never have any symptoms. Seventy to eighty percent of people who have gallstones don’t have any symptoms. The ten to twenty percent who have symptoms, the symptoms may vary from having what we call dyspepsia, little bit of bloating, little bit of discomfort, basically on the right upper side underneath the ribcage. So if you eat fatty foods and you get a little bit of belching and bloatedness which most of us would have with a meal and not particularly have any gall stones but if with those symptoms you have pain coming along. That is the first symptom that will lead you to the discovery of somebody who has gall stones.”

A thorough medical history and an ultrasound of the gallbladder will confirm the presence of stones.  Doctor Gabourel’s recommendation is to remove the gallbladder to prevent further complications which can be life threatening.

Dr Irvin Gabourel

“If you have gall stones and you can have gall stones for the rest of your life. If you never have what we call a bilairy colic then there is no need to remove those stones. The minute you start falling into the category that you have stones and you have pain then you  may have something known as cholestisisis, which is basically bacteria, invading the gall bladder walls and inflaming it and as a result you end up with cholestisisis. You can function without a gall bladder. I’m living proof of it. I haven’t had a bladder since 1994. Basically the gall bladder is placed there to aid in digestion. So it’s a little pouch that has bile so whenever you eat that gall bladder contracts that bile will be emptied into the duodenum and start the process of digestion. Or aid in the process of digestion. So basically it’s an organ you can live without. If you for some reason or the other you have that gall bladder removed it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Lastly be mindful that symptoms of gallstones can mimic those of other problems, including a heart attack, so an accurate diagnosis is important.

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