Gallstones: What they are, how to prevent them – The Providence Journal

Posted: September 28, 2020 at 2:57 pm

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Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder, an organ on the right side of your abdomen that holds bile to be released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

People who develop gallstones and experience symptoms (caused when gallstones lodge in a duct, resulting in a blockage) often require surgery to remove them. Those without symptoms, however, usually dont require treatment.

Symptoms include:

Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen and/or the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone Back pain between your shoulder blades Pain in your right shoulder Nausea or vomitingPain associated with gallstones can last several minutes to a few hours.See a doctor if you experience pain so intense that you cant sit still or find a comfortable position, yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice), or high fever with chills.Possible causes of gallstones: Your bile contains too much cholesterol. Normally, your bile contains enough chemicals to dissolve the cholesterol excreted by your liver. Your bile contains too much bilirubin, a chemical produced when your body breaks down red blood cells. Certain conditions cause your liver to make too much bilirubin, including cirrhosis, biliary tract infections and certain blood disorders. Your gallbladder doesnt empty correctly. Possible risk factors: Being female Being 40 or older Being a Native American Being a Mexican American Being overweight or obese Being sedentary Being pregnant Eating a high-fat diet Eating a high-cholesterol diet Eating a low-fiber diet Having a family history of gallstones Having diabetes Having certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia or leukemia Losing weight very quickly Taking medications that contain estrogen, such as oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs Having liver diseaseTo reduce risk of gallstones: Dont skip meals or fast. Try to stick to your usual meal times each day. Lose weight gradually, a maximum of 1-2 pounds per week. Eat more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Maintain a healthy weight.

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Gallstones: What they are, how to prevent them - The Providence Journal

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