Abdominal Pain: When To Get Checked For Gallstones

Hiba Nauman Feb 08 2016

It’s fairly common to hear about people undergoing gall bladder removals due to gall stones. It is also important to understand what they are and when should you see a doctor suspecting gallstones.

What Is The Function Of Gallbladder?

Gallbladder is a small pear shaped organ, placed below the liver. The liver produces chemical called bile that helps in the digestion of fats. The bile from the liver is stored in the gallbladder and it is secreted into the intestines slowly, whenever the body requires it.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are concentrated, hardened substances in the biliary duct. They can range from being as small as sand particles, to being as large as a golf ball. They are of three types:

Cholesterol Stones: When too much cholesterol is found in the bile secreted by the liver, cholesterol stones are formed.

Bilirubin: When the liver destroys old red blood cells, a chemical called bilirubin is produced. Some liver disorder can make the liver produce more bilirubin than it should. When your gallbladder cannot break down the excess bilirubin, gallstones are formed.

Concentrated Bile: The gallbladder needs to empty the bile to be healthy, if it fails to empty the bile, it accumulates in the gallbladder and forms concentrated bile stones.

What Makes You Prone To Gallstones?

Obesity: Higher cholesterol levels and obesity increases risk of gallstones.

Estrogen: Women who take birth control pills, are pregnant, or are undergoing hormone replacement therapy; usually have high levels of estrogen. Estrogen increases cholesterol levels and reduces contraction of gallbladder, hence making one prone to developing gallstones.

Diet: Having high calorie diet increases the risk of gallstones.

Extra Weight-Loss: When the fat breaks down at a faster rate, the liver produces extra bile, which causes accumulated concentrated bile. Often the cholesterol in the bile increases, which forms cholesterol stones.

Diabetes: Diabetic patients have a higher level of triglycerides which plays a huge role in forming gallstones.


Too much cholesterol in your bile: If your bile contains more than the average amount of cholesterol, then you can suffer from cholesterol bile stones.

Too much bilirubin in your bile: Liver cirrhosis, biliary tract infections, or blood related diseases can often make the liver to produce extra bilirubin; which in turn forms gallstones.

Not proper emptying of gallbladder: Gallbladder needs to empty the bile into the intestines. However if it fails to do that, then concentrated bile can form gallstones in the gallbladder.

Symptoms That Accompany Gallstones

  • Pain in the upper abdomen, specifically in the upper right region is often seen in patients with gallstones.
  • The pain also radiates to upper backside.
  • Pain in the right shoulder.
  • Pain in the area between shoulder blades.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

It is extremely important to take note of your health. If you see any of the above signs and symptoms for more than a few days, it is important to visit a doctor. In worst case scenario one can experience yellowing of skin and the white part of the eyes. High fever and chills also accompany gallstones.


Hiba Nauman

Hiba Nauman:

'Hiba is a dental student with a flair for writing. She takes caffeine very seriously, and loves experimenting with art. She strives to be a dental surgeon someday who not only performs surgeries but also spreads health awareness and free smiles.