Gallstones are hard lumps, as small as a grain of sand and even as large as a golf ball, made of cholesterol and bile salts. When gallstones form, they block the bile duct, triggering inflammation of the gallbladder. Getting rid of gallstones typically requires removal of the gallbladder
Gallstones may cause no symptoms at all. If one of the gallstones causes a blockage, the following symptoms may result:
- Sudden pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- Sudden pain in the center of your abdomen
- Back pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the right shoulder
- Flu-like symptoms, fever, vomiting, and chills
Gallbladder inflammation is more likely to show up after eating a large meal, especially one that is greasy and higher in fat.
Who is at risk?
Your risk for gallstones increases if you:
- are a woman
- are older than age 60
- are overweight, especially with a high-fat, high-cholesterol, or low-fiber diet
- have a family history of gallstones
- have diabetes
The risk of gallstones can be reduced when you maintain a healthy weight by eating well and getting exercise. If you do need to shed some pounds, do so slowly. Rapid weight loss can increase your risk of gallstones.
Your GI doctor will typically perform an endoscopy to examine your gallbladder and remove gallstones.
Gallbladder inflammation can be treated before it gets to the severe stages. In some cases, gallstones can be removed with the help of medication. If gall bladder inflammation is not treated promptly or properly, the risk for hospitalization and gall bladder removal is heightened.