Gallstones are very small particles that resemble pebbles, and they are formed in the gallbladder. When a certain amount of liquid gets accumulated in the gallbladder, it sometimes hardens up and forms small stone like substances. This can be a very discomfiting and excruciating experience, as passing out these gallstones from the system is quite painful. Causes are well-known in medical circles, and people that get afflicted by this condition are treated suitably.
The gallbladder is located in the upper right abdominal area, and it is a small sac that resembles a pear in shape. The liquid which hardens into the gallstones is known as bile, and this liquid helps the body in the digestion of fats. The liver, which is located just above the gallbladder, produces this bile and stores it in the gallbladder. Gallstone causes stem from the storage of excessive amounts of bile in the gallbladder. When the body requires the bile for digestion, it gets transferred to the small intestines through a duct known as the common bile duct.
Once the constitution of bile is understood, we can see that an imbalance in these constituents are the most common causes. Primarily, there are 3 things that bile is made up of - bile salts, cholesterol, and other waste products like bilirubin. Bilirubin is a pigment that is formed when old red blood cells present in the body break down. The imbalance of these 3 constituents in the bile often leads to chemical reactions that result in the formation of the small pebble like substances known as gallstones. Based on these imbalances, there are 2 types of gallstones that are found in the human body.
- Pigment gallstones - Excessive bilirubin in the bile causes pigment gallstones.
- Cholesterol gallstones - These are formed when there is an excess of cholesterol in the bile.
The presence of gallstones is obviously a very unhealthy phenomenon, and this makes it absolutely necessary for us to ascertain the causes. The stones lead to blocking and disruption of many passages inside the body, and this becomes increasingly apparent when a person has to pass urine or stools, which is extremely painful. This condition cannot be ignored and must be treated as soon as possible.
So what exactly are the main causes? The presence of a few gallstones can cause more of them to be formed in the gallbladder. Apart from this there are a few other reasons as well.
- As mentioned before, imbalances in the bile are the most common causes. Cholesterol gallstones are most commonly seen.
- Pigment gallstones can be caused by an infection in the bile tube, liver diseases, and blood disorders that have been inherited (like sickle cell anemia).
- This is a condition that is hereditary, so people who have a history of gallstones in their families are also very prone to developing this condition.
- Sex of the person also plays a role, as women are much more likely to get gallstones than men. The reason for this is the presence of the hormone estrogen in the female body, especially during times of pregnancy or while administering birth control pills. The estrogen increases cholesterol levels in the body, and this is one of the most common cause.
- Also, if a person is consuming a diet that is high in cholesterol and low in fiber levels, it could lead to cholesterol gallstones.
- As a person grows older, the secretion of cholesterol into the bile rises. As a result of this, old age is another cause.
- Excess weight and obesity is also a known cause of gallstones. Again, obese women are more susceptible to this.
- People who take cholesterol lowering drugs in the body, run a high risk of gallstones, as the excess cholesterol is stored in the gallbladder.
- People suffering from diabetes are also prone to contracting bilestones.
- Even the ethnicity and origins of a person are sometimes attributed as their possible causes
Causes and symptoms are well documented and one must take care not to ignore these signs. If left untreated, the amount of gallstones will only keep increasing. So corrective and remedial steps must be taken as soon as possible. The blockage of the bile ducts and tubes inside can cause a variety of symptoms and intense pain in many parts of the body. In some extreme cases the gallbladder has to be removed by surgery. Eventual infection and breakage of some vital organs inside is also not rare, so the causes of gallstones must be known to one and all.