What Are Gallstones?
- Cholesterol stones: Usually yellow-green in color, approximately 80% of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
- Pigment stones: These stones are smaller and darker and are made up of bilirubin.
What Causes Gallstones?
- Body weight
- Decreased motility (movement) of the gallbladder
What Are the Risk Factors for Gallstones?
- Genetics. If other people in your family have had gallstones, you are at increased risk of developing gallstones.
- Obesity. This is one of the biggest risk factors. Obesity can cause a rise in cholesterol and can also keep the gallbladder from emptying completely.
- Estrogen. Estrogen can increase cholesterol and reduce gallbladder motility. Women who are pregnant or who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy have higher levels of estrogen and may be more likely to develop gallstones.
- Ethnic background. Certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, are more likely to develop gallstones.
- Gender and age. Gallstones are more common among women and older people.
- Cholesterol drugs. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the amount of cholesterol in bile, which may increase the chances of developing cholesterol stones.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones.
- Rapid weight loss. If a person loses weight too quickly, his or her liver secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones. Also, fasting may cause the gallbladder to contract less.
What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?
- Pain in the upper abdomen and upper back. The pain may last for several hours.
- Other gastrointestinal problems, including bloating, indigestion and heartburn, and gas