What are gallstones and when do I need medical attention?

istock 1246366647 There are a wide range of gastrointestinal issues that can affect an individual. One of them is that of gallstones. Gallstones are produced by the gallbladder and can become a serious problem for some individuals. At the Metropolitan Vascular Institute, our professionals can help patients with problems associated with gallstones or the gallbladder. 

What is the gallbladder? 

The gallbladder is an organ that is small and pear-shaped. It is located on the right side fo the abdomen underneath the liver. This organ is responsible for holding digestive fluid called bile that is released into the small intestines, and sometimes, it can harden. This hardening creates stone-like deposits that are referred to as gallstone and ca become extremely problematic. 

What causes gallstones? 

Doctors still do not understand the cause of gallstones and why they appear for some patients and not for others. It is commonly associated with excess cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile of the gallbladder. Some patients experience absolutely no symptoms when they have gallstones, while others may experience severe pain and need surgery to treat. 

What increases a patient’s risk of developing gallstones? 

  •         Female patients
  •         Pregnant patients
  •         Patients with sedentary lifestyles
  •         Individuals over the age of 40
  •         Patients with a high-fat diet
  •         Individuals with a low-fiber diet
  •         Individuals who are obese
  •         Patients with a history of gallstones
  •         Individuals with diabetes or liver disease
  •         Some prescription medications

How do I know if I have gallstones? 

Gallstones do not always cause symptoms in patients, but they may present problematic if they become lodged and cause a blockage. Then, patients might notice the following concerns: 

  •         Nausea and vomiting
  •         Pain in the right shoulder
  •         Pain in the back between the shoulder blades
  •         Sudden and strong pain in the abdominal area, typically the center or upper right portions
  •         Pain that comes and goes over several minutes to several hours

Intense pain associated with yellowing skin, yellowing whites of the eyes, or a fever require immediate attention as they may be experiencing serious signs of gallbladder or gallstone complications. 

Do you suspect gallbladder concerns? 

Connect with the doctors at the Metropolitan Vascular Institute to learn more about the gallbladder and common conditions that are affiliated with this organ. The office is located at 3015 Technology Plaza, Suite #100 and can be reached at (301) 374-8540 to schedule an appointment.  

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