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Women Over 40 Should Never Ignore These 9 Symptoms Of Gallstones

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If you’ve ever known anyone with gallstones, then you’ve no doubt heard about how painful and unpleasant they can be.

And they’re not exactly rare. In the developed world, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of adults have gallstones, and they’re more common in women, especially after the age of 40, so looking out for symptoms is important to your health and comfort.

But first, what is a gallstone, anyway?

Gallstones aren’t literal stones, but rather hard deposits of cholesterol and another compound called bilirubin found in the gallbladder. These deposits can cause pain in the abdomen, as well as inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver.

There are many causes for gallstones, and it seems that women over 40 and people of European, Mexican, and Native American heritage are more at risk for them than others.

Birth control pills, pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and rapid weight loss are also common causes. The best way to prevent them is with a healthy diet and by maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping your liver healthy is a good idea, too!

But there is good news. Even though gallstones affect millions of people, many never experience symptoms.

If no symptoms are experienced, no treatment is required, because gallstones themselves aren’t dangerous to your health. It’s only if they start causing pain that they’re a problem.

For most people experiencing gallstone symptoms, surgery is an option, as are medications. One treatment even involves using shockwaves to break up the stones.

But how do you know if you might have gallstones? There are very specific symptoms. Learn about them below, and if you think you’ve experienced any, talk to your doctor immediately.

Cover photo: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr

Symptom #1: Intense Pain In The Upper Right Portion Of The Abdomen

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Gallstone pain is localized, and is usually experienced on the upper right side of your abdomen.

The pain occurs when a gallstone blocks a bile duct, a condition known biliary colic.

This pain, referred to as a “gallstone attack,” usually occurs after a rich, heavy meal, and it can also radiate up between the shoulder blades or to just below the right shoulder.

Symptom #2: Yellowing Of The Skin And Whites Of The Eyes

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

When a bile duct is blocked, it causes bilirubin, a yellow compound to back up and leak into the bloodstream, which causes a jaundicing, or a yellowing, or the surrounding tissue.

Excess bilirubin in the bloodstream can also lead to itching and a feeling of confusion.

Symptom #3: High Fever With Chills

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

If a fever follows the pain, then it’s time to see a doctor. This means that a gallstone is blocking the bile duct and causing a backup of bile in your gallbladder and body.

Symptom #4: Tea-Colored Urine And Light-Colored Stool

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Dark, brownish urine is a symptom of a gallbladder issue, as are light- or clay-colored stools.

It has to do with your bile ducts being blocked so that bile, as well as other materials, aren’t flowing through your body properly.

Symptom #5: Nausea And Vomiting

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Nausea and vomiting usually accompany a gallbladder attack, and commonly accompany the abdominal pain of a gallstone attack.

Symptom #6: General Digestive Problems

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Bile is needed for digesting your food, so if its flow is disrupted, then your digestive system won’t be working as smoothly.

Bloating, gas, upset stomach, and indigestion are all common symptoms, especially after a large or fatty meal, like fried food.

Symptom #7: Intolerance Of Fatty Foods

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Speaking of fatty foods, gallstones make it harder and harder to eat them. This includes fried food, or anything rich and creamy.

Fatty foods can cause indigestion anyway, but having gallstones makes it even worse.

In addition, obesity and diabetes exacerbate gallstones, so if you’re looking to prevent gallstones, cut back on fatty foods anyway.

Symptom #8: Shaking And Chills

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Chills are a major part in determining if a gallstone is to blame for discomfort and pain.

If you have a fever with chills and shaking, as well as abdominal pain, call a doctor immediately.

Symptom #9: Pain After Heavy Eating Or Physical Activity

Symptom

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Gallstone attacks usually appear after a large meal, but they can also happen after periods of heavy breathing, such as after exercising.

If you experience any of the more severe symptoms, such as abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, or discoloration of the skin or eyes, seek medical attention immediately! Your doctor can discuss treatment options with you.

To prevent gallstones, eat a balanced diet, avoid high-fat and high-cholesterol foods, and keep your weight in the healthy range.SHARE this information to keep your loved ones healthy!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/symptoms-of-gallstones/

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