The normal function of the gallbladder is to store bile produced by the liver, and to aid in the digestion and absorption of fats in the duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine).
Gallstones compose a solid formation of cholesterol and bile salts and 80-90% of this condition are cholesterol gallstones. It can be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a golf ball (though smaller gallstones are more common).
This is one of the most common and costly digestive diseases, and women are more likely to develop it than men due to multiple pregnancies, obesity and rapid weight loss. It is even seen in increasingly younger patients, perhaps due to the large amounts of fast foods being consumed.
Risk factors which can lead to increased incidence of gallstones are the four “Fs” :
Fat – Overweight and obese people are most likely to develop gallstones. What needs to be done is to find out what the body mass index (BMI) is, and begin a diet and exercise program to get the BMI into an acceptable range.
Forty- We have to realize that our bodies don’t work the way it used to. When in our forties, we should eat not like in our twenties. Since gallstones are normally caused by poor diet, eating properly is important as we get older.
Female – Because women tend to have higher body fat percentages and live less active lives than males, they are at greater risk for gallstones.
Fertile – Gallstones tend to form in women during pregnancy because of increased hormone levels.
People who develop gallstones generally don’t experience any symptoms for years, and many never develop any symptoms at all. These people are called asymptomatic and they have “silent stones” that do not interfere in gallbladder, liver or pancreas function and don’t require treatment.
When the symptoms of gallstones occur, they are often called an “attack” because they occur suddenly.