Call 630-398-3329 to speak with an agent.

Call 630-398-3329 to speak with an agent.

Gallstones: Learn More About This Common Condition

Posted by David Cheatham, December 12, 2018

One of the most common internal conditions, affecting more than 3 million people in the US each year, is gallstones. Still, most of us know very little about gallstones until it happens to us or a loved one. 

 

What are Gallstones?

They’re not actually stones, of course. Gallstones are solid deposits that are formed from either cholesterol (the most common type) or bilirubin from the liver. Gallstones are often detected during imaging scans such as an ultrasound. Often they go undetected for years, because in many people gallstones don’t cause any problematic symptoms. However, sometimes the deposits can block a bile duct and cause pain.

 

Can gallstones be prevented?

To some degree, you have control over whether you experience gallstones. The condition is partly genetic, and no one can change their DNA. Those with diabetes are also more susceptible. But various lifestyle factors also contribute, such as:

  • Your weight – higher weight is associated with increased incidence of gallstones
  • Your diet – if your cholesterol levels are too high, due to diet, you are more likely to develop gallstones
  • Drinking alcohol – those with cirrhosis of the liver face a greater risk of gallstones

Medications are another common factor in the development of gallstones. If you take medication that boosts estrogen in the body, such as hormone replacement therapy for menopause, you should be extra mindful of the risk of gallstones.

Oddly enough, even though high cholesterol is a risk factor for gallstones, taking medication to lower your cholesterol can also trigger the problem. This situation points to the importance of preventing high cholesterol in the first place, by following a healthy diet.

 

Symptoms of gallstones.

Many people have gallstones for years, without any trouble or symptoms. But when symptoms do occur, you might experience:

 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the upper belly and upper back
  • Bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and gas

 

How are gallstones diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects gallstones, he might perform an ultrasound, CT scan, or other imaging tests to look for the stones. You might also need a blood test, to rule out signs of infection. Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the entire gallbladder. Some people with certain medical conditions should not have surgery, and will instead take medications to dissolve the stones. These medications often take years to work, however, and the stones can come back after some time.

If you suspect you might have gallstones, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Luckily, in the vast majority of cases, the condition is quite easy to treat.

Need more information on your insurance options?

Contact us online to learn more

Contact Us

Close Accessibility Tools
Accessibility Controls Reset
Content Adjustments
Font Size

Default

Line Height

Default

Content Scaling

Default

Highlight Titles
Highlight Links
Highlight Forms
Align Left
Align Center
Align Right
Focus Mode
Color Adjustments
Desaturate
Monochrome
Contrast

Default

Saturation

Default

Accessibility Statement

Despite our attempts to make this website accessible for everyone, there may still be some pages or sections that are not completely accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or do not have a suitable technological solution to make them accessible. Nevertheless, we are always striving to enhance our accessibility by adding, updating, improving its options and features, and incorporating new technologies.

We want to provide our users with the best experience possible, so we strive to support as many browsers and assistive technologies as possible.

If you wish to contact this website's owner, please use the contact form on the website.

Our User Interface Adjustment Options

Font adjustments - With this tool, users can modify font size, style, letter spacing, and line height for improved alignment and readability.

Color adjustments - Users can customize their color contrast profiles to light, dark, desaturated, and monochrome.

Content highlighting - Users can prioritize key elements such as links, forms, and titles.

Content focus - Users can enable focus mode to highlight the current page information based on their mouse movement.

Close