Gallstones occur in one in ten people over the age of 40 and tend to occur in members of the same family. They usually form in the gallbladder, the gallbladder collection bag, and do not cause problems as long as they float in it. They consist mainly of the fatty substance cholesterol, pigments and some salts, and are triggered by a change in the composition of the bile. They are more common in anemic people. Namely, pigmented gallstones can be formed by excessive destruction of red blood cells, and sometimes as a result of narrowing of the bile ducts. Quite often there are more of them and they are as big as a golf ball.

Let’s not wait for complications!

Most people find out about gallstones by chance if they go to see a doctor for some other illness. Therefore, they often do not cause any symptoms or are felt only when one or more stones close the exit from the gallbladder or the common bile duct. A stone that partially or completely blocks the outflow of bile will cause the attacks known as biliary colic, which can have very severe symptoms: mild to severe pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting. The attacks are usually short, but so painful that we can’t even stand anymore! Then you just need to seek medical help. We lie down, take a painkiller, and take nothing but a sip of water here and there. The pain subsides if the stone slips back into the gallbladder or if cramps push it down the bile duct into the duodenum.

Signs of gallbladder inflammation

The problems usually escalate within a few hours. Signs include constant pain in the right side of the abdomen – just below the ribs, pain in the right shoulder, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills. For mild problems, treatment with antibiotics and painkillers helps, and for more severe symptoms, we will be admitted to the hospital. Surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually recommended.