The gallbladder is a storage pouch that is found underneath the liver. It stores bile pigments that are secreted by the liver and ultimately meant to be released into the gastrointestinal tract. Gallstones are found most commonly in the gallbladder. Gallstones are benign, and composed primarily of cholesterol. Some gallstones contain bile pigment or calcium. This disorder affects both adolescents and adults. Although both sexes are affected, there is a preponderance of the disorder in women. 20% of those over 40 have gallstones.
Causes of Gallstones
Gallstones may develop because of a failure of the gallbladder to empty. There may be alterations in bile mucus or increased bilirubin concentration in bile (Bilirubin is a yellowish, red-blood-cell waste product in bile that the blood carries to the liver. It contributes to urine’s yellowish color and can cause jaundice if it builds up in the blood.). Infections may develop in the bile passages or in the gallbladder, especially if they become obstructed.
Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones
Gallstones produce episodes of colicky pain in the right upper abdomen. By irritating the diaphragm, sometimes discomfort may be felt in the right shoulder. Frequently, there is nausea and vomiting. Bloating and frequently belching can occur. Intolerance for fatty foods is usually manifested by the development of indigestion, bloating or belching or by the onset of right upper abdominal pain, when they are consumed. Jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes, may occur if there is obstruction of the bile drainage into the gastrointestinal tract. In about 40% of cases, there are no clinical symptoms.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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