There’s a good chance you’ve heard of gallstones, but what you may not know is that they’re not really stones at all. Instead, they’re bits of organic matter that gather together in the gallbladder, the organ residing just below the liver in the human frame. Gallstones can actually form without causing any significant health problems — it’s when they make their way into vital areas, such as the duct responsible for carrying bile, that they begin to cause issues.
There are two basic types of gallstones: cholesterol stones and pigment stones. Cholesterol stones are far more common, with experts indicating that the represent about four in five cases. Pigment stones are smaller and typically made of a bile-like substance. Both types of gallstones can cause serious problems — so what are the major risk factors for developing them?
As with many health conditions — both serious and mostly harmless — genetics play an important role in determining if you will have issues with gallstones. For this reason, it’s a good idea to discuss gallbladder problems with your family members, keeping in mind that if someone close to you had issues with gallstones, there’s a good chance you will too.
The good news is that you can do a number of things to limit your risk of developing gallstones, even if your genes increase your risk. By maintaining a healthy weight and diet, you can do a lot to cut down the chances that you’ll experience gallbladder problems, including gallstones.