Gallstones, hardened crystallized formations lodging in the gallbladder or in the bile ducts, are formed from either cholesterol or calcium. It's estimated that about 15% of men and 30% of women have these, although often there's no symptoms and many go undetected.
Gallstones formed from cholesterol
Even though cholesterol formed gallstones are more common, making up around 80 percent of all gallstones, many contain both cholesterol and calcium. If composed of calcium they’re detectable by x-ray examinations. Therefore many people harboring cholesterol gallstones probably don’t know of them, unless of course, the symptoms, nausea, vomiting, pain in the upper right abdominal quadrant, alert physicians and diagnosticians to their possibility.
Liver cells turn cholesterol into bile. When this fatty substance solidifies or hardens into stones something has gone awry with the process of transformation. Supposedly, the more cholesterol present in the blood, the more bile will be created. The purpose of this liver function is to rid the body of excess cholesterol. Bile is liquid and in order to keep it fluid and able to dissolve cholesterol, bile acids and lecithin must be in sufficient proportions from the liver. If there’s more cholesterol than can be dissolved this gradually build up into stones.
They’re created over time and may start from a small grain of sand size and build up layer after layer into a golf ball size stone. Or there may be several small sized stones that don’t enlarge. According to Medicine Net there are two distinct way gallstones are formed:
Once gallstones have begun forming in the gallbladder thereafter there’s a rapid onset of more gallstones. Another way is a reduced amount of gallbladder contractions and thus emptying of the contents will instigate the creation of stones. The longer the cholesterol stays in the gall bladder, the more likely the sluggish cholesterol will crystallize into stones.
Calcium formed gallstones
Pigment stones are gallstones formed from calcified bilirubin. They’re black or brown in color, whereas cholesterol stones are usually green. Black calcium stones are the type most often found. They make up about 20% of all gallstones. Diseases associated with these types of stones are hemolytic anemia or cirrhosis of the liver. The difference between those harboring brown stones rather than black calcium stones is the amount of cholesterol present that offsets the amount of bilirubin present. Brown pigment stones are those that occur in the bile duct rather than in the gall bladder.
Pigment, bilirubin, is a waste product formed by the liver from used up red blood cells. It’s released into the blood and is responsible for giving the brown color to feces.
Rare form of gallstones
A medicinally formed type of gallstone is relatively but is sometimes formed when an antibiotic, ceftriaxone is taken. It’s normally eliminated with bile but sometimes it forms with calcium and forms stones.
Those at risk
Those who are overweight are more at risk for gallstones than those with normal weight; older folk are more likely to have gallstones; pregnant women and those on birth control pills; losing weight fast, intestinal disease, and those who have higher levels of fatty acids in blood are more at risk. In other words, those who have more strain on their systems and demand more of liver functions than can be delivered.