Bile is a greenish liquid that is released from the liver and concentrated in the gallbladder to aid in the digestive process. The bile stored in the gallbladder is released into the digested food to breakdown the fat present. Gallstones are formed when there is a chemical imbalance in the bile present in the organ. There are two types of gallstones that may be formed cholesterol stones and pigment stones. These gallstones in turn cause gallbladder attack.
Cholesterol gallstones are formed when there is an excessive amount of cholesterol present in bile and not sufficient amounts of bile salts present. Cholesterol stones are yellowish in color are the most common occurence of gallstones. Bile salts present in bile are responsible for dissolving the cholesterol brought in by the liver. However if there is an excess amount of cholesterol that cannot be dissolved by the bile salts, it could cause the cholesterol to crystallize into gallstones.
Gallstones can also be formed and cause gallbladder attack if the gallbladder empties out infrequently or if there is a decrease in it’s contraction . A decrease in the organ’s contraction would cause an increase in bile concentration and ultimately cause gallstones to form. Eating at random hours or skipping meals may also cause a decrease in it’s contraction.
People who suffer from diseases such as liver cirrhosis, blood disorders, and biliary tract infections may develop pigment gallstones. Pigment gallstones are dark colored stones caused due to excessive amounts of billirubin present in bile. Pigment gallstones account for about 15% of all gallstones diagnosed.
Gallstones may also obstruct the flow of essential enzymes that aid in the digestive process. These enzymes are produced in the pancreas and if the obstruction persists it can cause an inflammation of the pancreas . (pancreatitis). The gallstones may also obstruct the flow of bile from the gallbladder and cause gallbladder disease.
Other factors such as a family history of gallbladder attack, being overweight, aging, diet and use of certain drugs may put people at risk of developing gallstones. Diets that constitute high amounts of fat and cholesterol can cause gallstones due to the increase in cholesterol in the bile. Elderly people who are above 60 years of age may also develop gallstones as their liver may discharge an increased amount of cholesterol into the bile.A deficiency of melatonin could also cause gallstones.
Next read about gallstone risk factors