What causes cholelithiasis?
In most cases, cholelithiasis is caused by excessive amounts of cholesterol in the bile that is stored in the gallbladder. The cholesterol hardens to form stone-like substances. Increased body weight and older age are associated with increased levels of cholesterol in the bile. Thus, gallstones are more likely to occur in women, in people who are obese, and in older individuals.
Some gallstones develop because the bile contains too much bilirubin, a waste product of the liver that is a component of bile. Gallstones that develop from excess bilirubin are called pigment stones.
What are the risk factors for cholelithiasis?
A number of factors increase your risk of developing cholelithiasis. Not all people with risk factors will get cholelithiasis. Risk factors for cholelithiasis include:
- Age over 40 years
- Crash dieting, or losing weight rapidly (the bile then contains more cholesterol)
- Ethnicity (risk is higher in American Indians and Mexican Americans)
- Family history
- Female gender
- Liver disease
- Overweight or obesity
- Pregnancy (decreases the gallbladder’s ability to empty bile)
- Use of certain medications (cholesterol-lowering drugs increase cholesterol in the bile)
Reducing your risk of cholelithiasis
Although some risk factors, such as age and gender, cannot be modified, you may be able to lower your risk of cholelithiasis through lifestyle changes including:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting regular physical activity
- Losing weight slowly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
What is cholelithiasis?
Cholelithiasis is the medical name for hard deposits (gallstones) that may form in the gallbladder. Cholelithiasis is very common in the United States, especially in women over age 40.... Read more about cholelithiasis introduction
What are the symptoms of cholelithiasis?
Cholelithiasis may cause irritation and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) that can result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.... Read more about cholelithiasis symptoms
How is cholelithiasis treated?
Treatment of cholelithiasis begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have cholelithiasis, your health care provider may ask you to provide blood samples and undergo diagnostic tests.... Read more about cholelithiasis treatments