3 Fs making a female prone to gall bladder stones
You must be amazed to know that more than 60% Indian women are with 3Fs i.e. they are fat, fertile and are in their early or late forties.
“Being a woman is the most important risk factor that makes a woman prone to gall bladder stones”
Let us discuss factors in brief that is making your gall bladder home to stones:
It is believed that stones (made up of cholesterol majorly) are formed when bile in gall bladder contains too much of cholesterol or less bile salts, or the gall bladder doesn’t get empty completely. The etiology for such imbalances is still unknown.
The reason of the formation of the pigment stones is not fully understood. The pebbles tend to form in persons who have chronic liver disease, biliary tract infections or hereditary blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia.
Even the mere presence of gall stones may accelerate the gallstone formation. Other factors that contribute to the formation of cholesterol gall stones are:
- Gender: women are more prone to develop gall stones. In the US, nearly 25% of females by the age 60 and 50% of females by the age 75 develop gallstones. In a majority of cases, the patient is asymptomatic. In females, increased level of estrogen during pregnancy, HRT and contraceptive pills raise the cholesterol levels in bile and slows down the movements and contractions of the gall bladder eventually leading to gall bladder stones.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy period favors the gallstone formation and are usually symptomatic. The surgery cannot be done until the delivery of the baby and if necessary then laparoscopy is the safest approach.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy: Numerous researches have shown that the use of HRT not only increases the risk for gallstones but also rate of hospitalization for gallbladder disease/ surgery. Estrogen imbalances the triglycerides to a higher side which in turn causes the formation of cholesterol stones. The mode of drug delivery may make a difference in the risk; woman who uses HRT in form of a patch or gel faces is at a lesser risk than those who take a pill.
- Family history: there exists a genetic link.
- Weight: it has been proved in various studies that obesity and even moderately overweight increases the risk for formation of gallstones. Obesity is one of the major risk factor especially in females.
- Diet: diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol and poor in fiber make a person more prone to gall stones due to increased levels of cholesterol in the bile and decreased motility of the gallbladder and delayed emptying.
- Crash diets or dieting: due to prolonged fasting and rapid weight loss the liver secretes more cholesterol into bile; hence leading to gallstone formation.
- Age: as the age advances the people are more likely to develop gallstones than younger persons.
- Race: American Indians have a genetic predisposition to produce cholesterols in a high quantity in bile. In fact they have the highest rate of gallstones in the US.
- Cholesterol– lowering drugs: these drugs lower the cholesterol levels in the blood but increases the amount of cholesterol secreted into bile and thereby raises the risk of gallstones.
- Diabetes: persons with diabetes usually have abnormal or increased levels of triglycerides making them more prone to gallstones.
Symptoms of gallstones
In a majority of cases the gallstones remain silent called as ‘silent stones’ which are asymptomatic and do not cause any interference with gallbladder, liver or pancreas and hence do not need treatment. They are usually diagnosed accidentally during health screenings or ultrasound.
If the gallstone creates some blockage in the bile ducts, the pressure is increased in the gallbladder and one or more of the following symptoms may occur. The symptoms may occur suddenly due to the obstruction and often follow fatty meals and usually occur during the night. A typical attack cause:
• constant pain in the right upper abdomen that increases and lasts from half an hour to several hours
• pain in the back between the shoulder blades
• pain under right shoulder
Note: people with any of the mentioned below symptoms should consult the physician immediately.
• prolonged pain-more than 5 hours
• nausea and vomiting
• fever-even low-grade-or chills
• yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes
• clay-colored stools
Prevention of gallstone formation
Some measures that can be taken by yourself:
• Drinking coffee regularly prevents gallstones
• No to junk food
• Eat nuts which contain unsaturated fats
• Eat a healthy diet
• Minimum intake of carbohydrates and more of vegetables
• Exercise regularly
• Take calcium phosphates
• Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day