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What are Gallstones?
Health 27.09.19 

What are Gallstones?

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol and bilirubin, that form in the gallbladder. In most cases, they do not cause any symptoms and do not need to be treated.

Symptoms of Gallstones

Gallstones often have no symptoms. However, if a gallstone becomes trapped in an opening (duct) inside the gallbladder, it can trigger a sudden, intense pain in your stomach that can last between 1 and 5 hours. This type of abdominal pain is known as biliary colic.

Some people with gallstones can also develop complications, such as inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis).

This can cause:

  • Persistent pain
  • Jaundice
  • Chills or sweating
  • A high temperature
  • Vomiting

When gallstones cause symptoms or complications, it’s known as gallstone disease or cholelithiasis. If you have gallstones, and want to reduce the chances of an attack you may wish to follow the advice below:

  • Avoid fatty or greasy foods
  • Don’t skip meals
  • Eat foods high in cholesterol
  • Choose foods that are high in fibre
  • Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet

The Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small organ found underneath the liver. Its main purpose is to store and concentrate bile. Bile is a liquid produced by the liver to help digest fats. Bile is passed from the liver into the gallbladder through a series of channels known as bile ducts.

The bile is stored in the gallbladder and, over time, becomes more concentrated, which makes it better at digesting fats. The gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system when it’s needed.

What Causes Gallstones?

Gallstones develop due to of an imbalance in the chemical make-up of bile inside the gallbladder. In most cases the levels of cholesterol in bile become too high and the excess cholesterol forms into stones. Gallstones are very common. It’s estimated more than 1 in every 10 adults in the UK has gallstones, although only a minority of people develop symptoms. It is often rare for children to have gallstones.

You’re more at risk of developing gallstones if you’re:

  • Overweight
  • Female (particularly if you have had children)
  • Over 40 (the risk increases as you get older)

Treating Gallstones

Treatment is usually only necessary if gallstones are causing:

In severe cases, keyhole surgery to remove the gallbladder may be recommended.

This procedure, known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is relatively simple to perform and has a low risk of complications. Without your gallbladder, your liver will still produce bile to digest food, but the bile will drip continuously into the small intestine, rather than build up in the gallbladder.

Who Are RXLive?

This article was written by the pharmaceutical experts at RXLive online pharmacy, who post repeat prescriptions to you for free! You may wish to consider using services such as RXLive, which provide a free delivery service to ensure you never miss your medication again and have a dedicated pharmacist ready to chat at all times. You can sign-up to the service here – completely free!



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