As we all know, the Gallbladder is a small organ that is positioned in the upper right abdomen, right below the liver, and it's a pouch-like structure that holds bile juice (a greenish-yellow liquid that helps with digestion). However, some of the chemicals that subsist in the gallbladder tend to solidify into several small stones or one large stone.
According to medical studies and reports, most gallbladder stones form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. Even though experts are not completely sure of how some people develop the chemical imbalance in their gallbladder that forms gallstones, medical studies reveal that gallstones are very much common among obese people, especially women.
Read on to learn more about gallbladder stones, how they are formed, what symptoms do they exhibit, and what’s the right time for you to visit a urologist to seek help in this regard.
Gallbladder Stones or Gallstones
Gallbladder stones are basically hardened deposits of bile juice, a digestive fluid that forms in your gallbladder. Besides the bile pigment, these lumps also contain calcium salts and cholesterol. There are basically 2 types of gallbladder stones:
(1) Pigment Gallbladder Stones – Formed due to excessive bilirubin in the bile juice, pigment gallstones are usually dark-brown or black in colour.
(2) Cholesterol gallbladder Stones – Being the most common type of gallbladder stones, these gallstones are composed of undissolved cholesterol, and they often appear yellowish in colour.
Gallbladder stones vary a lot in terms of size. They may be as small as a sand grain or as big as a golf ball. Medical studies reveal that in some cases, people develop just one gallbladder stone, whereas in other cases, people develop many small gallstones at the same time.
Even though gallbladder stones don’t cause any signs or symptoms, most people who experience gallbladder stones usually undergo surgery to get rid of them.
How Are Gallbladder Stones Formed?
Though it is not clear what actually causes gallbladder stones to form, most doctors and medical experts believe that gallbladder stones form due to the following 3 reasons.
(1) Excessive cholesterol in your bile – Normally, your bile juice contains sufficient chemicals to liquefy the cholesterol that is excreted by your liver. However, if the liver excretes excessive cholesterol that your bile can break up, then the excessive cholesterol takes the form of crystals and eventually turns into gallstones.
(2) Excessive bilirubin in your bile – If you're not aware, then I would like to bring this to your knowledge that bilirubin is a chemical that is produced within the body during the breakdown of red blood cells. However, in certain conditions such as biliary tract infections, blood disorders, or liver cirrhosis, the liver produces too much bilirubin, and it eventually contributes to the formation of gallbladder stones.
(3) Full gallbladder causing concentrated bile – Your gallbladder needs to empty its bile content in order to be healthy and function properly. However, if it doesn't empty completely, then it may cause the bile to become over-concentrated, which may ultimately result in the formation of gallbladder stones.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Stones
Gallbladder stones may cause no symptoms or signs. However, if a gallbladder stone lodges in your bile duct and causes a blockage, then the resulting symptoms or signs may include:
With these common symptoms of gallbladder stone, your gallbladder stone pain may last from several minutes to a few hours.
Various complications of gallbladder stones may include:
When to Consult a Urologist?
If you’re experiencing any signs or symptoms of gallbladder stones, then you can consider making an appointment with your medical expert or a urologist. Make sure you seek immediate medical health care if you develop any signs or symptoms of a serious gallbladder stone complication like:
Following these tips can eventually help you to reduce your risk of gallbladder stones.
The Bottom Line
It is a fact that if your gallstones don’t cause symptoms, then you won’t possibly need treatment. However, it is imperative that you make the necessary lifestyle changes in order to prevent your gallstones from getting larger and causing problems.