Gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladders. They vary in size and can range anywhere from the size of a golf ball to a grain of sand.
There are two main types of gallstones: those made of cholesterol and those made of bilirubin. Gallstones made of cholesterol are the most common type. Contrary to their name, they have nothing to do with cholesterol levels in the blood. Gallstones made of bilirubin, on the other hand, occur when red blood cells are being destroyed and there is too much bilirubin in the stool.
While women, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people over the age of 40 are more likely to develop gallstones, there are other factors that can cause them. Diabetes, liver cirrhosis, rapid weight loss, intravenous feedings, and a bone marrow or solid organ transplant can all cause gallstones.
Fortunately, many people with gallstones do not experience any symptoms. However, if the gallstones have become severe enough, patients may experience pain in the upper abdomen, fever, jaundice, or nausea and vomiting. If you are experiencing any of these and suspect gallstones might be the cause, visit our office to be tested and receive the proper treatment.