What are Gallstones?
Definition of Gallstones: Deposits in the gallbladder made of either cholesterol or a waste product called bilirubin. Women, Native Americans, Hispanics and people over age 40 are more susceptible to gallstones, according to the NIH. Below is a brief overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments, plus links to more information.
What Causes Gallstones? Both cholesterol gallstones and pigment gallstones, made of bilirubin, form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores bile and pumps it into the small intestine. Possible causes for gallstones include:
- Too much cholesterol in bile
- Too much bilirubin in bile
- The gallbladder doesn't empty properly
Are Gallstones Contagious? No.
Signs & Symptoms: Many people have no symptoms. Large gallstones may cause pain in the right or middle-upper abdomen, pain in the right shoulder or pain between the shoulder blades. See a doctor immediately if you have pain for more than 5 hours, a fever, and a yellowish tint to the eyes and skin.
Treatment & Remedies: Most gallstones require no treatment. Doctors may use laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder or other minimally invasive procedures to target bothersome gallstones. Some oral medications can dissolve cholesterol gallstones, although this treatment takes longer than surgery.
- Gallstones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball.
- Cholesterol levels in the blood are not related to gallstones.
- Bone marrow or organ transplants, rapid weight loss, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and some medical conditions put people at higher risk for gallstones.
Sources and More Information:
- Gallstones: Details from MyHealthNewsDaily
- Related Information from the Mayo Clinic
- Related Information from the National Institutes of Health
- Related Information from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
This information is not meant to provide specific medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. We recommend you consult a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and treatment advice, and call 9-1-1 in emergencies.
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