- Hyperlipidemia-high concentration of cholesterol in blood
- Liver Diseases
- Starvation or sudden wi
- Pigment stones form most often in people with liver disease or blood disease, who have high levels of bilirubin.
- Poor muscle tone may keep the gallbladder from emptying completely. The presence of residual bile may promote the formation of gallstones.
Risk factors for the formation of cholesterol gallstones include the following:
- female gender,
- being overweight,
- losing a lot of weight quickly on a “crash” or starvation diet, or
- taking certain medications such as birth control pills or cholesterol lowering drugs.
Gallstones are the most common cause of gallbladder disease.
- As the stones mix with liquid bile, they can block the outflow of bile from the gallbladder. They can also block the outflow of digestive enzymes from the pancreas.
- If the blockage persists, these organs can become inflamed. Inflammation of the gallbladder is called cholecystitis. Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis.
- Contraction of the blocked gallbladder causes increased pressure, swelling, and, at times, infection of the gallbladder.
When the gallbladder or gallbladder ducts become inflamed or infected as the result of stones, the pancreas frequently becomes inflamed too.
- This inflammation can cause destruction of the pancreas, resulting in severe abdominal pain.
- Untreated gallstone disease can become life-threatening, particularly if the gallbladder becomes infected or if the pancreas becomes severely inflamed.
Gallstones and Diet
The role of diet in the formation of gallstones is not clear.
- We do know that anything that increases the level of cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of gallstones.
- It is reasonable to assume that a diet with large amounts of cholesterol and other fats increases the risk of gallstones, but it is also important to remember that the amount of cholesterol in your bile has no relationship to your blood cholesterol.
- Losing weight rapidly seems to increase the risk of gallstones and so does skipping meals.
- Obesity is a risk factor for gallstones.
- Eating a fatty or greasy meal can precipitate the symptoms of gallstones. Continue Reading
Gallstones can be any size, from tiny as a grain of sand to large as a golf ball.
- Although it is common to have many smaller stones, a single larger stone or any combination of sizes is possible.
- If stones are very small, they may form a sludge or slurry.
- Whether gallstones cause symptoms depends partly on their size and their number, although no combination of number and size can predict whether symptoms will occur or the severity of the symptoms.
Gallstones within the gallbladder often cause no problems. If there are many or they are large, they may cause pain when the gallbladder responds to a fatty meal. They also may cause problems if they block bile from leaving the gallbladder or move out of the gallbladder and block the bile duct.
- If their movement leads to blockage of any of the ducts connecting the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas with the intestine, serious complications may result.
- Blockage of a duct can cause bile or digestive enzymes to be trapped in the duct.
- This can cause inflammation and ultimately severe pain, infection, and organ damage.
- If these conditions go untreated, they can even cause death.
Up to 20% of adults in the United States may have gallstones, yet only 1% to 3% develop symptoms.
- Hispanics, Native Americans, and Caucasians of Northern European descent are most likely to be at risk for gallstones. African Americans are at lower risk.
- Gallstones are most common among overweight, middle-aged women, but the elderly and men are more likely to experience more serious complications from gallstones.
- Women who have been pregnant are more likely to develop gallstones. The same is true for women taking birth control pills or on hormone/estrogen therapy as this can mimic pregnancy in terms of hormone levels. Continue Reading