Crystallised formations of bile juice and cholesterol within the gallbladder are what as referred to as gallstones. They can be common in adults as well children while affecting 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men. The size of the gallstones can vary ranging from as small as a grain, to as large as a golf ball. Known as gallstones; these are actually solid piece of material that are composed of hardened bile & cholesterol that gets clogged within the gallbladder. Many times, a person might not be completely aware of having gallbladder stone till they suffer from abdominal pain.
7 Signs of Having Gallbladder Stones
- Abdominal Pain: This is the most common symptom of gallbladder stones. The gallbladder is a little sac to store bile which is produced by the liver. The gallbladder releases the bile into the small intestine via the cystic duct. This entire process is for the break-down of fatty foods and when the cystic duct gets blocked or is obstructed, is when the abdominal pain starts. The pain will generally radiate towards the outside of the belly and can move to the center of abdomen and also to the back. This “gallstone attack” belly pain can last from 15 minutes to several hours and is one of the important signs of having gallstones.
- Pancreatitis: This is inflammation of pancreas and when diagnosed with it, there are high chances of gallbladder stones. Since pancreas are located next to the liver and both of them secrete digestive enzymes in the digestive tract like bile; when they meet near the intestine, a stone in either of the duct can affect the functioning of the other. Now if the stone of gallbladder exits and gets stuck in the pancreatic duct, it will cause intense abdominal pain coupled with inflammation. In such cases, doctors generally remove the gallbladder.
- Lack of Appetite: As the pain worsens, patient will experience loss of appetite. As the inflammation or the infection of the gallbladder stone worsens over time, gallstones can completely obstruct and block the bile ducts, thereby making digestion severely painful. Since the pain due to gallbladder stones only initiates when the bile duct is blocked, in people with weak immune systems the bile gets accumulated in the liver. This is also a symptom of jaundice. Lack of appetite is followed by jaundice, which is an important sign of having gallstones.
- Changes in Urine: When stones are formed in the gallbladder, the bile pigment in the urine cause the urine to turn dark yellow. When the waste products in the body exceed the normal limit, it indicates that the bile duct is completely obstructed. Even urinating can become painful in such cases. This causes the waste products in the body to circulate. The dark and the discoloured urine and dehydration indicate gallbladder stones. Blood in urine is an indication of kidney damage.
- Changes in Stool: When the gallstones, which are the mixture of bile, cholesterol and bilirubin, gradually grow in size and when they block the bile duct, they change the colour of the stool to a pale clay form. These bowel movements increase in frequency (10 to 12 times a day) and is a sign of a gallstone attack. A gallstone attack generally is preceded by diarrhea, which is also one of the signs of having gallbladder stones. With the blockage and obstruction in the bile, the stool colour would take a light colour. This happens mostly in diarrhea. Also in case of diarrhea, dehydration is common and the lost liquid from the body must be replenished.
- Fever: The infection and inflammation of the bile duct is one of the common signs and symptoms of having gallbladder stones. Patients prone to gallbladder stones attacks can experience chills and fever. Also, according to a research conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, it was found that more than one third of gallstone patients suffered from chills and fevers. Moreover, worst cases, soaring high and serious fever would occur due to Acute Cholecystitis. It is preceded by nausea and vomiting. In case you don’t` know, Acute Cholecystitis is the inflammation of gallbladder and it is a very fatal and life threatening medical condition which if left untreated can lead to perforation of the gallbladder.
- Pain in Chest: Very often chest pain is mistaken as a varying signal of a heart attack, but this isn’t always the case. Chest pain in gallstone patients occurs due to the acid which was trapped in the bile duct getting pushed up to the chest resulting in pain which is similar to a heart attack pain. Though a chest pain indicates heart attack, but chest pain after a big meal would indicate a gallbladder stone attack.
- Mayo Clinic: Gallstones – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/symptoms-causes/syc-20354214
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Gallstones – https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones
- MedlinePlus: Gallstones – https://medlineplus.gov/gallstones.html
- American College of Gastroenterology: Patient Education & Resource Center – Gallstones – https://gi.org/topics/gallstones/