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What is Gallbladder stone?

The gallbladder is a four-inch pear-shaped organ, situated under your liver in the upper right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder stores a combination of fluids, fat, and cholesterol which is called bile. This bile is essential in breaking down the fat from the food. It helps in breaking down fat-soluble vitamin and nutrients so they get easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

Whenever the bile in the gallbladder hardens it forms small pebble-like stone, which is called gallstones. This stone may vary in sizes from a grain of sand to a tomato.

Gallstones are a very common and easily treatable condition. Also, most gallstones don’t cause blockages and are painless and usually don’t need medical treatment. However, it is important to live a healthy and trouble-free life, hence we have some important signs and symptoms to look for in identifying gallstones.

Signs and Symptoms

In most cases, gallstones have no symptoms, apart from severe pain which is called biliary colic or cholecystitis. The pain from biliary colic is a very specific type that comes on suddenly and gradually increases over a few minutes. However, pain may vary in severity.

  • Pain in upper right abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Digestion problems
  • Increased Liver enzymes

Biliary colic is a recurring symptom. Once the first episode occurs, there are likely to be other episodes. Moreover, there is a pattern of recurrence for each individual, that is, in some individuals, the pain tends to remain frequent while in others they are infrequent. The majority of people who develop biliary colic do not go on to develop other complications.

Apart from the above common signs and symptoms of the gallbladder stone, one should also look for gallbladder attack or biliary colic.

  • Attacks may occur every few days, weeks, or months; they may even be separated by years.
  • The pain usually starts within 30 minutes after a fatty or greasy meal.
  • The pain is usually severe, dull, and constant, and can last from one to five hours.
  • It may radiate to the right shoulder or back.
  • It occurs frequently at night and may awaken the person from sleep.
  • The pain may make the person want to move around to seek relief, but many patients prefer to lay still and wait for the attack to subside.

Who is at risk?

Although gallstones are common and in most cases unidentified, however, it is observed that certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing gallstones than others.

  • People with a family history of gallstones.
  • Women are more likely to develop gallstones as compared to men. Women who have extra estrogen in their body due to pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, or birth control pills may be more likely to produce gallstones.
  • Older people are more likely to develop gallstones. As you age, the chance that you’ll develop gallstones becomes higher.
  • People with health conditions like metabolic syndrome, obesity, cirrhosis, and diabetes.

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