Gallstones: know the causes and symptoms


Gallstones affect around 10% of the adult population in Europe. This condition mainly concerns the age group of 10-60 year. After 92 years, 10 % of people would be affected. Women seem to be more affected than men. Strangely, the periods before menstruation represent periods when hepatic colic is most frequent.

The main causes of the appearance of gallstones

Gallstones are mainly due to the precipitation of cholesterol in the gallbladder or in the bile ducts. This happens when the liver makes bile that is supersaturated with cholesterol. However, cholesterol is not very soluble in bile, hence the formation of cholesterol crystals. There are different causes for the concentration of cholesterol to be too high in the bile. The causes or risk factors include diet, obesity, alcohol, stress, certain medications.

– A high-calorie, high-fat diet leads to too high a blood concentration in cholesterol. Hearty meals trigger liver attacks.

– Obesity and overweight are the source of many metabolic diseases. Reducing your weight when you are overweight is a favorable factor in reducing the frequency of appearance of gallstones. The body functions better.

– Alcohol taken in excessive quantities and in a chronic way can deteriorate the functioning of the liver by causing cirrhosis. A poorly working liver will produce overloaded and poor quality bile, explaining the appearance of gallstones.

– Medications that can cause gallstones to form include estrogen, oral contraceptives or lipid-lowering drugs (used to treat cholesterol.

How do you know if you have gallstones?

Gallstones present in the gallbladder generally cause no pain or symptoms. This is why they often go unnoticed. However, their migration into the bile ducts can be ‘accompanied by characteristic and violent symptoms and last for a few hours. Attacks appear more frequently at night, following meals rich in fats. Symptoms generally begin in the upper part of the abdomen. There is a feeling of heaviness. pain intensifies and may radiate to the right arm, shoulder and scapula.

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