What are the Symptoms of Gallstones?

Gall bladder is a small pear-shaped organ situated in the upper right part of the abdominal cavity beneath the liver. The function of gallbladder is to store the bile secreted by the liver and deliver a certain amount of it in the GI system during the process of digestion. Sometimes the chemical compounds in bile accumulate to form a solid mass which looks like a stone. Cholesterol is the main component in a gall stone. Almost 80% of the gallstones are cholesterol stones. There are also pigment stones and their chemical components are calcium and bilirubin. Most of the gallstones do not produce any symptom and remain as ‘Silent stones’. Only they produce symptoms when the biliary duct or the common bile duct gets obstructed by the stone. The symptoms of gallstones are:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen – this is the most consistent feature of gallstone. The pain in colicky in nature, i.e. there is pain free period in between attacks. Often the pain starts after taking a fatty meal. The gallbladder contracts to release the bile but cannot deliver it as the duct is blocked by the stone. The pressure inside the gallbladder is increased which causes the pain. If the patient is asked to take deep breath and his right upper part of the abdomen is gently pressed, he stops taking the breath in the midway due to pressure over the inflamed gallbladder. This is called Murphy’s sign. Usually the patient is Fatty, Female (gallstones are more common in females), Fertile (women having more than two babies bear more chance for gallstones), over Forty years of age and she is Flatulent (due to disturbed fat digestion). This is often called the ’5 Fs’ of gallstone.
  • Fullness of abdomen – patient often experiences that the abdomen is full and appetite becomes less. This is due to improper digestion of fat and oils which remain in the gastrointestinal system for a longer time than usual. There is also belching after taking food. Frequent passing of gas is also common.
  • Vomiting – nausea and vomiting are also two common symptoms of gallstones. Disturbed motility of the GI system leads to this condition.
  • Jaundice – as the biliary duct or the common bile duct gets blocked by the gall stone, the bile present in the gall bladder is reabsorbed and gets deposited in the skin and mucous membrane of other organs (skin, conjunctiva, tongue, in the nail bed etc.) giving a yellowish discoloration of the organs.
  • High colored urine – bile is excreted through the urine giving it a dark yellow appearance.
  • White colored stool – as bile is absent in the GI system and also in the stool, the digestive remains of our food becomes colorless. Stool is often mixed with undigested fat (steatorrhea).
  • Flu-like symptoms – inflammation of the gallbladder by the blocked stone can occur. There may be deposition of bacteria inside the core of the gallstone leading to low-grade fever, chills and sweating.
  • Itchy skin – deposition of bile in the skin can cause irritation and there may be itchy skin.

gallstones

Source – strandloper

These are common symptoms of gallstones. All of them may not essentially be present in a single patient. But a middle aged female having recurrent pain in the right upper abdomen should always be examined to exclude gallstones.

Category: Disease and Conditions

Tags: abdomen fullness, common symptoms, gall stones, gall stones symptoms, high colored urine, itchy skin, jaundice, symptoms, upper abdomen pain, vomiting, white colored stool