Causes, Treatment and Prevention of Gallstones

Are you suffering from the galling problem of recurring abdominal pain? Gallstones may be the reason

Gallstones are more common in women than in men, and they can produce severe pain in the abdomen or back

If you’re experiencing recurring abdominal pain, gallstones could be to blame

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ just below the liver that’s responsible for storing the bile secreted by the liver as an aid to digesting fats in the diet.

Gallstones are hard deposits that sometimes form inside the gallbladder or its associated bile ducts. They can range in size from as tiny as a grain of sand to the size of a golf ball. They’re more common in women than in men and are associated with obesity, pregnancy, elevated blood trigylceride levels and some inflammatory bowel diseases.

Gallstone Diagnosis and Treatment

When a large stone blocks a bile duct, it can produce severe pain in the middle to right-upper abdomen or back – a condition called biliary colic. The pain can be sharp or dull, can spread to the back, and can also be accompanied by fever or jaundice. Diagnosis of the condition is usually through examination or an abdominal ultrasound and blood tests.

For those experiencing pain and other symptoms, gallbladder removal (usually laparoscopic surgery) is the standard treatment, although alternative treatments can be used for smaller stones.

Gallstone Prevention

To help prevent the formation of gallstones, avoid fried and heavily processed foods, whole-milk products and fatty red meat. Also, avoid very low-calorie diets or losing weight too quickly. Both have been linked to an increased incidence of gallstones.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.