Gallstones form in the gallbladder and are not stones per se. These are more like solid materials found in the organ, and in many cases, people don’t realize they have gallstones, until there is pain. The pain is mostly triggered when the gallstones block a bile duct.
Here are some of the facts you need to know.
Types of gallstones
“Stones” in the gallbladder can be classified into two categories. The first kind are cholesterol stones, which are the most common and look greenish in color. The other type of gallstones is known as pigment stones, which are smaller in size. Pigment stones are made up of a substance called bilirubin, which is related to bile.
Causes at a glance
Gallstones can be related to the problems of the gallbladder, although studies have related them to genes as well. Other factors that can lead to gallstones include diet, weight issues, and bile. Bile is naturally produced by the body and is important for liver function, but if bile contains more cholesterol, the chances of gallstones increase considerably. Pigment stones are often related to other conditions, including certain kind of anemia and liver cirrhosis.
The risk factors
Some people are more likely to get gallstones than others. One of the known risk factors is obesity, because it can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels. Obese people also have issues with gallbladder in general, because the organ cannot empty completely. Women are more likely to suffer from gallstones, especially if they are taking birth control pills, which increases the level of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is responsible for increasing the cholesterol levels that can lead to formation of gallstones. People with Type 2 diabetes are also at a greater risk. If you are taking certain medicines and drugs to keep cholesterol levels in check, these can cause or attribute to the formation of gallstones. Genes also play an important factor.
If you have abdominal pain or cramps, especially in the upper part of the abdomen, do talk to your doctor. Experts of USPI suggest getting the tests done as early as possible, so that the treatment can be started. Medicines can be used to dissolve gallstones, although in some cases no treatment is required. In a number of cases, the gallbladder is removed surgically -a procedure known as cholecystectomy. Don’t worry – removing the gallbladder doesn’t cause any issues with digestion.