Gallstones Symptoms

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Gallstones Symptoms
Gallstones Symptoms

Video: Gallstones Symptoms

Video: Gallstones Symptoms
Video: Gallstones Signs & Symptoms, Why They Occur | Cholecystitis, Choledocholithiasis, Cholangitis 2023, May

Gallstones: causes & symptoms

Gallstones are caused by an imbalance of soluble substances in the bile. The composition of the bile - also called bile or liver secretion - is finely tuned. If there are changes in the composition, otherwise dissolved components can crystallize.

The solid, crystallized precipitate can be tiny and up to a few centimeters in size. It is found in the gallbladder and / or bile ducts. Very small forms are also called bile sand, sludge or bile gravel. Gallstones can cause severe pain, but they also cause no discomfort.


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  • "> What types of gallstones are there?


  • What are the risk factors?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • What complications can arise?
  • How can you prevent gallstones?


The bile is a yellow, brown to olive green liquid. In addition to the bile pigments (e.g. bilirubin), it contains water, minerals, bile acids (salts), lecithin (phospholipid) and cholesterol. The bile is made in the liver. The job of the bile is, among other things, the digestion of fat and the elimination of substances from the body. The gallbladder stores and thickens bile from the liver.

What types of gallstones are there?

The most common type of gallstones contains a large part of cholesterol, called cholesterol stones (cholesterol stones). There are also pigment stones (bilirubin stones) and mixed stones. The stones can also calcify. The technical term for gallstones or gallstone disease is cholelithiasis.

Anatomical picture gall bladder and stones © Henrie

According to the place of their deposition one differentiates:

  • Gallbladder stones (cholecystolithiasis) and
  • Bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis).

What are the risk factors?

Certain factors can promote the development of gallstones. These include the family risk or genetic causes, increasing age and body weight (obesity). Gallstone disease is more common in women. It is believed that this is related to the female sex hormone estrogen. Gallstones can also occur more frequently during pregnancy. Another causal connection are long periods of fasting, e.g. with diets. There are also numerous other, rarer risk factors.

What are the symptoms?

After eating, the gallbladder contracts to empty the stored bile into the small intestine. The bile is needed there for digestion. If there are stones, it can cause pain. However, the pain can also occur at other times. Gallstones can also remain symptom-free and / or cause problems at a later point in life.

Symptoms of gallbladder disease can include:

  • Cramp-like and / or persistent pain in the middle to right upper abdomen ("colic"),
  • Pain that radiates to the right shoulder,
  • dull, unspecific upper abdominal pain,
  • Nausea,
  • Vomit.

If the stones are located in the biliary tract, there may be additional symptoms, for example:

  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • dark urine,
  • light stool;
  • In the advanced stage, chills, fever and signs of sepsis can also occur.

What complications can arise?

The following complications can occur, for example:

  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis)
  • Inflammation of the biliary tract (acute cholangitis),
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Jaundice (jaundice).

There is also a risk of gallbladder or bile duct cancer under certain circumstances.

How can you prevent gallstones?

In order to prevent the formation of gallstones or to avoid colic in the presence of gallstones, no special "bile diets" or "bile diets" are required. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular physical activity to maintain a normal body weight are generally recommended.

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