Gallstones: Signs, Causes & Prevention!

Gallstones are the stone formed out of bile components, present in the gall bladder. 

The condition of presence of gallstones in the gall bladder & the subsequent symptoms manifested by it is called Cholelithiasis.


Composition of Gallstones are:

  • Cholesterol Stones
  • Bilirubin stones
  • Bile pigment stones
  • Calcium stones
  • Mixed stones


  • Gallstones may be asymptomatic, even for years.
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Pain in upper right side of the abdomen & belly.
  • Flatulence
  • Acidity & heartburn
  • A patient may also experience referred pain between the shoulder blades or below the right shoulder.
  • Fever
  • Jaundice


  • Biliary Colic or a gallbladder attack which can last for 30 minutes that manifests sharp pain & vomiting.
  • Cholecystitis, inflammation of the gall bladder.
  • Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Cholangitis, inflammation of the bile duct.
  • Secondary infection by bacteria.
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool
  • Gall bladder cancer.



  • The symptoms are presented due to the blocking of the common biliary duct by gallstones.
  • Lack or decreased production of melatonin which is considered a potent antioxidant.
  • Genetic factors
  • Age: people near or above the age of 40
  • Females before menopause.
  • Constipation
  • Low fluid consumption
  • High intake of carbohydrates & sugars.
  • Diet that is low in folate, Magnesium, calcium & Vitamin C.
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obesity & a high cholesterol diet. 


  • Increased levels of estrogen in pregnancy.
  • Some drugs that are a risk factor are; PPIs, Hormonal drugs for replacement therapy, fibrates, etc.
  • Some diseases that can increase the risk of Gallstones are;
  • Diabetes
  • Celiac Disease
  • Hemolytic anemia.
  • Biliary tract infection
  • Liver cirrhosis or damage that can lead to increased secretion of bile products that lead to the formation of gallstones.
  • Intestinal diseases like Crohn’s Disease.


  1. Blood tests for checking of high levels of serum bilirubin.
  2. Ultrasound/Ultrasonography
  3. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for checking of presence of gallstones in the bile ducts.
  4. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), utilizes MRI for imaging of the gallbladders & affected ducts.
  5. Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan), in which a radiographic dye is injected in the gallbladder, in order to check for the proper draining action of the gallbladder.
  6. Endoscopic Ultrasound
  7. Oral cholecystography
  8. CT scanning
  9. Liver function test for checking of the presence of enzymes, ALT & AST which are indicative of a liver disease.
  10. Lipase enzyme test is also essential for determination of any damage to the pancreas.


  • Cholesterol gallstones can sometimes be dissolved by oral ursodeoxycholic acid or chenodeoxycholic acid, which is to be taken for 2 years.
  • Pain management by NSAID drugs & opioid analgesic drugs.
  • Management of bile duct infection by antibiotics.
  • Gallstones can be broken up using a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy(often simply called “lithotripsy”).
  • Obstruction of common bile duct is relieved by endoscopic retrograde sphincterotomy (ERS) following endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
  • Surgical cholecystectomy which is the surgical removal of gallbladder. The surgery is of two types;
    a) Open cholecystectomy
    b) Laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Low fat & cholesterol diet.
  • Low carbohhydrate & sugar diet.
  • Intake of essential vitamins & minerals like VIT-C, Magnesium, folate, etc.
  • Decreasing consumption of alcohol.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Eating high fiber foods.
  • Management of underlying comorbidities.