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Gallstones – Causes and Symptoms of Gallstones

The gallbladder is an internal organ present under the liver. It stores digestive fluids made by the liver. These fluids sometimes may become solid and form stones called gallstones. Gallstones often pass out of the body but sometimes they result in severe complications. They contain a solid formation of bile salts and cholesterol. These stones range in sizes between grain of sand to golf ball. One gallstone or many gallstones may develop in an affected person at the same time.

Gallstones are common in the United States and it is estimated that approximately one million new cases are diagnosed yearly. Women are more prone to develop gallstones than men. The reasons behind this are rapid weight loss, multiple pregnancies and obesity.

Causes of Gallstones

Gallstones are formed when the bile in the gallbladder becomes solid. Gallstones may result due to following reasons.

  • The amount of bile or cholesterol goes high
  • Other substances in the bile juice may promote stones formation
  • Pigment stones are formed as a result of high levels of bile in case of blood disease or liver disease
  • Gallbladder doesn’t empty out completely. The residual bile promote the stone formation

Basically gallstones are classified into two types and each type has its own cause. They are pigment gallstones and cholesterol gallstones.

Pigment gallstones – These gallstones are small and dark in appearance. They made up of bilirubin and calcium salts. They develop in people who have cirrhosis, sickle cell anaemia and biliary tract infections.

Cholesterol gallstones – These are green in colour and sometimes in yellowish or whitish in appearance. They are made up of cholesterol. They develop when the gallbladder does not empty out or toomuch bilirubin is produced.

Symptoms of Gallstones

Majority of the people with gallstones do not show any symptoms. But if the stones causes a blockage in the bile duct, the following symptoms arise:

  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Back pain in between the shoulder blades
  • Sudden and rapid pain in the abdomen
  • Sudden and rapid pain in the upper right portion of abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clay colored stools

Seek an immediate medical professional help, if serious symptoms occur such as:

  • High fever with chills
  • Yellowing of eye whites and skin
  • Intense abdominal pain

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