More than 3 million people in the United States get gallstones each year. While gallstones are common and not always harmful, they need to be taken seriously when they produce symptoms. In fact, many people require gallbladder removal surgery when the stones become large, abundant or painful.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are hardened deposits of bile that can develop within the gallbladder, a small digestive organ located under the liver. The gallbladder is designed to store bile, which helps break down fat from food in your intestine. When bile hardens, however, it can produce stones that limit the gallbladder’s healthy function.
Gallstones can vary in number and size. A gallstone the size of a grain of sand may not produce physical symptoms and only irritate the gallbladder. However, a gallstone that grows to the size of a golf ball can trigger severe pain due to the fact that it has likely blocked the ducts of the gallbladder. Having the gallbladder removed is often the chosen line of treatment when gallstones reach the point of causing severe pain or elicit frequent “gallbladder attacks,” which can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and pain between the shoulder blades.
How do Gallstones Form?
While there are several specific causes of gallstones, most stones form when a patient’s bile (digestive fluid) contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin. This condition can also occur when the gallbladder is not emptying correctly and bile concentration gets high. Gallstones are not always preventable, but medical professionals agree that certain foods and drinks can make gallstones more likely.
Lessen Your Risk for Gallstones by Avoiding These Foods
If you have a tendency to develop gallstones or you want to avoid complications with current stones, you’ll want to stay away from the following list of foods as much as possible:
- Fatty Meats
- Oil-Packed Fish
- High-Fat Dairy
- White-Flour Products
- Processed Meats
- Sugary Desserts
Have more questions about gallstones or how to keep a healthy gallbladder? Call Dr. Brent Michael in Santa Monica. Our clinic offers patient-centered treatment for gallstones and other digestive conditions.