What Are the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Gallstones?

Q:
What are the risk factors and symptoms of gallstones?

A:
Gallstones are more likely if they run in your family, and they’re likelier among women, older people, and some ethnic groups, including Native Americans and Mexican-Americans. You’re also more likely to get gallstones if:

  • You’re obese. Obesity can raise your cholesterol level and also make it harder for the gallbladder to empty completely.
  • You take birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms, or are pregnant.
  • Extra estrogen can increase cholesterol and make it harder for the gallbladder to empty.
  • You have diabetes. People with this condition tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones.
  • You take medicine to lower your cholesterol. Some of these drugs boost the amount of cholesterol in bile, which may increase your chances of getting cholesterol stones.
  • You lost weight too quickly. Your liver makes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones.
  • You’re fasting. Your gallbladder may not squeeze as much.

Signs and symptoms of gallstones may include:

  • Back pain between your shoulder blades
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in your right shoulder
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.