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Gallbladder Stones: Symptoms, Causes And Risks

When the deposits of this fluid harden inside your gallbladder, they lead to the formation of gallstones. Click here to know all about gallstones.

Gallbladder Stones: Symptoms, Causes And Risks

Gallstones can be as small as the size of sand-grain or as large as a golf ball

The little pear-shaped organ close to your liver really has an important role to play. It releases the bile pigment which helps in breaking your food down and digesting it, particularly fats. When the deposits of this fluid harden inside your gallbladder, they lead to the formation of gallstones. These stones can be as small as the size of sand-grain or as large as a golf ball. Some people may develop only one stone and some may develop too many. Usually, these stones are not harmful but in some cases they may block the passage of bile from the bladder, thereby causing inflammation and pain. This is when a gallbladder removal surgery is required. But before we proceed to that, it is important to note some signs, symptoms, causes, and risks posed by gallstones. Take a look.

Also read: Here's The Best Diet Plan To Follow Post Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Experts are not very clear as to what causes gallstones. However, they say that the following are the major causes of gallstones.

1. Too much cholesterol in bile



Normally, the bile has enough chemicals to dissolve the cholesterol excreted by your liver. But sometimes the liver produces too much cholesterol which cannot be broken down by bile. This extra cholesterol forms crystals and stays in your liver in the form of gallstones.

2. Excess bilirubin in bile

When your body breaks down red blood cells, it produces bilirubin. It could be due to cirrhosis, blood disorders or biliary tract infections. This extra bilirubin may contribute to the formation of gallstones.

3. Gallbladder is not emptying properly

When your gallbladder fails to empty properly, then bile can remain there in concentration. This can result in the formation of gallstones.

Signs and symptoms of gallstones

If the gallstones are not serious, they will not show many signs and symptoms. However, if they block the passage of the bladder, they may show symptoms like:

  • Intense pain in the upper part of your abdomen
  • Intense pain in the centre of the abdomen, below the breast bone
  • Pain between shoulder blades
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in right shoulder
  • The pain could be anything; from mild to severe. It could last for a few minutes to hours.

When should you see a doctor?

Certain signs and symptoms could be something you need to worry about. They could indicate a serious gallstone condition. These symptoms include:

  • Excruciating abdominal pain which makes it hard for you to sit comfortably
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
 
stomach ache

Gallstones can cause excruciating stomach ache
 

Risk factors for gallstones

Your diet and lifestyle have an impact on your risk of developing gallstones. These two are the controllable factors. However, there are some more uncontrollable risk factors for it. Broadly, the risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Eating a diet high in terms of fats and carbs
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Rapid weight loss in short period of time
  • Family history
  • Gender (women are at a higher risk of gallstones)
  • Age (above 60)
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pregnancy
  • High estrogen medication
  • Cholesterol-lowering medication

However, you must not leave these medicines completely without your doctor's approval.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information. 

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