What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are formed from the substances in bile that clump together into crystal-like rocks. Gallstones can develop at anytime and do not create many health issues on their own. However, when the gallstones leave the gallbladder, if they get stuck in the pancreas, liver, or intestines they can cause serious health issues. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. The larger the stone, the more damage the stone may be able to cause.
What you eat is one of the main causes of gallstones. High levels of cholesterol intake can cause increased levels of cholesterol in your bile. Studies have shown that the higher the levels of cholesterol and bilirubin in your blood, the greater chance you will have of forming gallstones.
Having family members who struggle with gallstones may also increase your ability to get gallstones. Certain genetic factors in the way that the body's digestive system is made up may increase the ability of the body to form gallstones. This genetic makeup is passed down from generation to generation.
Poor muscle tone on the gallbladder can be another cause of gallstones. When the muscle tone is weak, the gallbladder is unable to completely empty itself. This leaves bile to sit and pool inside the gallbladder. As the bile is left to sit, the substances inside it start to harden, causing gallstones.
Those suffering from blood diseases or liver diseases tend to have higher levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is one of the substances that cause gallstones to form. The longer the increased levels of bilirubin are present, the more time the body has to form gallstones.
Certain prescription medications may also raise the level of substances in the body that can cause the formation of gallstones. The most common prescription medications that may increase the risk of gallstones are cholesterol medications and birth control pills.