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Gallstones are hard crystal deposits located in the bileduct or gallbladder. They might vary in the size, from sand grain to pebbles oreven golf balls. The gallbladder might produce just one large gallstone, acouple of medium size ones or many small stones. Sometimes, it could evendevelop a combination of different sized stones.

Hardening of the liquid in the gallbladder, called bile, iswhat cause gallstones. Bile is made in the liver and after that accumulated in gallbladder.This liquid is pushed to the small intestine and used there to ease theabsorption of nutrients from the food.

Hardening process is associated with too much bile salt,bilirubin or cholesterol in the bile.

Types of Gallstones:

Cholesterol stones. They are mostly made of toughenedcholesterol and are yellowish-green in color. Most gallstones are of cholesteroltype, about 80% of all gallstone cases.Pigment stones. Hardened bilirubin makes small and dark gallstones.

Causes of Gallstones

Exact reasons that cause this condition are not known. Too muchof bilirubin or cholesterol in the bile is believed to be responsible fordevelopment of the cholesterol gallstones. Also, small amounts of bile salts orincomplete emptying of the gallbladder are the contributing factors.

Pigment gallstones are still unexplained. They occur incases when the liver produces have too much bilirubin, including: sickle cell anemia (blood disorder), infectionof the biliary tract or liver cirrhosis.

Contributing Factors

Gallstones are self-provoking. It is confirmed that if you already have somegallstones in the bladder, they will provoke more stones to appear.Women are more likely to have gallstones thanmen. Women have more estrogen in the body, which increases levels of bilecholesterol and leads to gallstones forming. Estrogen might originate fromcontraception tablets, pregnancy or estrogen replacement treatment.Gallstones run in the families, and if you hadsomeone with this condition, it is more likely that you have inherited it.Overweight and obese people have increased riskof gallstones. Even just a couple of pounds (kilograms) may cause gallstones,especially in women. Diabetic patients are at greater risk of gallstones.Medications used to treat high cholesterol (anti-cholesterol drugs) mightlead to this condition, too.Diet rich in fat and cholesterol may causestones in the gallbladder.Weight loss, especially overnight, "crash diets” couldcause gallstones.After the age of 60, the risk of the gallbladderstones gets much higher than in young people.American Indians and Mexican Americans are proneto this medical condition, particularly Pima Indians.

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