Frequent episodes of pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen that lasts for a few hours on eating fatty foods may be an indication that you have gallstones. In addition to abdominal pain, other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, indigestion, burping, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and indigestion.
Gallstones may be formed if bile, an enzyme that is temporarily stored in the gallbladder and released in the small intestine for the digestion of fats, contains high levels of cholesterol or bilirubin, or the gallbladder is always full of bile and not regularly emptied.
There are several risk factors for gallstones, some of which can be modified to lower your risk for developing gallstones:
- Controllable risks factors that may increase your risk of developing gallstones include being obese, a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber, having diabetes, or losing weight too quickly.
- Uncontrolled risk factors for gallstones include being over 40 years of age, being female, being of Native American or Mexican American descent, and having a family history of gallstones. There is nothing much that can be done about these risk factors.
- Medical risk factors include having cirrhosis, being pregnant, taking certain medications used for lowering cholesterol levels, and taking medications that have high estrogen content. A doctor should be consulted about changing medications to reduce the risk of developing gallstones.
To keep your gallbladder healthy and prevent the formation of gallstones you should strive to maintain a healthy weight, eat a high-fiber and low-fat diet, exercise regularly, avoid extreme dieting, and always seek the advice of your doctor before following a weight loss program or taking any supplements.
Dr. Marc Zaré specializes in minimally invasive surgery and believes that modern surgery should be innovative, non-invasive, and patient-centered. His mission is to provide every patient compassionate surgical care based on sound scientific evidence. With over 15 years of experience in clinical practice, Dr. Zaré is considered to be a leader and one of the foremost experts of his field in Northern California. He is recognized for his surgical skills, clinical expertise, and superior outcomes.