Gallstones: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

Reviewed By Dr. Vipin Bihari Sharma
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Gallstones or gallbladder stones are a common medical condition that affects the gallbladder, a small organ located beneath the liver whose primary function is to store and concentrate bile. It is usually when the cholesterol levels in bile become too high; the excess cholesterol assumes the form of stones. Gallbladder stones are a widespread occurrence, but it is only a handful who develop symptoms.[1]

These small, hardened deposits can vary in size, ranging from a grain of sand to a golf ball. While some individuals may have gallstones without experiencing any gallbladder stone symptoms, others can face significant discomfort and health complications. This comprehensive guide will throw light on various aspects of gallstones, providing valuable insights into gallbladder stone symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and gallbladder stones treatment methods. By delving into this information, individuals can better understand their condition and make informed decisions regarding their healthcare.

What are the causes of gallstones?

According to studies, gallbladder stones are formed when there is a lack of balance in the chemical makeup of bile inside the gallbladder. The cholesterol levels in the bile often go out of proportion, so the excess cholesterol turns into stones. The condition usually develops:

  • If there is cholesterol inside the gallbladder
  • If there is bilirubin inside the gallbladder
  • In case a person is obese or overweight
  • In females, especially after they have had children
  • In people who have crossed the age of 40, the risk increases as person gets older [1]

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

In most cases, gallstones do not show any gallbladder stone symptoms. However, a patient may experience sudden and severe abdominal pain, known as biliary colic, and the pain happens in the gallbladder stone pain area when a gallstone clogs one of the human bile ducts. Some of the common gallbladder stone symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or biliary colic: This is one of the most common gallbladder stone symptoms where there is a sudden severe pain in the gallbladder stone pain area that may last between 1 to 5 hours and is centered in the middle of the abdomen. It also occurs under the ribcage on the right-hand side, from where it spreads to the shoulder area. The pain is also often triggered after the intake of fatty foods.
  • Other gallbladder stone symptoms include high temperatures, racing heartbeat, itchy skin, loss of appetite, diarrhea, chills, persistent pain, and confusion, among others.[1]
  • How can gallstones be diagnosed?

    Since, in most cases, gallbladder stones do not manifest any symptoms, they are usually discovered when tests for conditions are conducted. In case an individual shows symptoms of gallstones, a physician may ask for further tests like Murphy’s sign test to help determine if the gallbladder is inflamed. A battery of blood tests may also be recommended when a patient is checked for signs of infection or if the liver is functioning properly. For instance, if there are gallbladder stones in the bile duct, it will be difficult for the liver to work properly.

    In case a patient shows certain symptoms and the initial test results suggest that they have gallstones, they may be recommended to do several other tests such as:

  • Ultrasound scan: An ultrasound scan can usually confirm the presence of gallstones. The kind of ultrasound used for gallstones is akin to the scan used during pregnancies. When there are gallbladder stones in the bile duct, they are sometimes detected during an ultrasound scan. In case they are not visible but the medical examinations suggest the bile duct may be affected, some other tests may be in order
  • MRI Scan: AN MRI Scan uses hyper-magnetic fields as well as radio waves to generate detailed images of the inside of the body, which may be required to detect gallstones in the bile ducts.
  • Cholangiography: This is yet another procedure that can offer further information about the condition of the gallbladder. In the course of this test, if a blockage is detected, a doctor may suggest removing it immediately.
  • CT Scan: This scan is usually recommended if a doctor wants to determine if any complication is involved, such as acute pancreatitis. If a patient suffers from severe abdominal gallbladder stone pain, a CT Scan is usually ordered to diagnose the cause.[1]
  • What is the treatment for gallstones?

    gallbladder stones treatment

    Gallbladder stones often can go without the need for any gallbladder stones treatment but may be in need of treatment if the patient manifests certain symptoms such as pain in the abdomen and other complications such as acute pancreatitis and jaundice. In such a situation, they usually need to go through a gallbladder stones treatment like keyhole surgery for gallbladder stone removal. The procedure, also known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is relatively uncomplicated. A patient can go on leading an everyday life without a gallbladder.[1]

    A patient with gallstones may also require gallbladder stones treatment if the condition creates the risk of other complications go up, such as:

    • Diabetes
    • Scarring of the liver or cirrhosis
    • High blood pressure inside the liver, which is known as portal hypertension

    In case the gallbladder stone pain a patient experiences is not very frequent and is mild, they may be given only painkillers as a gallbladder stones treatment to control future bouts or just asked to maintain a healthy diet that can also help keep the pain in check. Certain foodstuffs that trigger the gallbladder stones symptoms, such as fatty or spicy food that lead to diarrhea or bloating, should be avoided. In case the gallbladder stones symptoms are extremely severe and frequent, a doctor will recommend gallbladder stone surgery to remove the gallbladder.[1]

    The best gallbladder stone ayurvedic treatment is believed to be lifestyle modification through ahara, vihar, and achara, as well as detoxification therapies. This gallbladder stone ayurvedic treatment involves therapeutic medicated purgation after the administration of medicated oils/ghee. [2]

    gallbladder stone ayurvedic treatment

    Among other ayurvedic medicine for gallbladder stone are amalaki rasayana and trivrittavalehyam, which are potent anti-oxidants and are also known to pose anti-inflammatory activities. Amalaki and Rasayana are the best anti-oxidants with hepato=protective and anti-inflammatory properties.[2]

    A healthy and balanced diet is suggested if a patient is advised against gallbladder stone surgery or removal. This usually involves keeping a variety of food in the diet, which also includes moderate amounts of fat and comprises regular meals. While this will not cure gallstones completely or make the symptoms go away, it will certainly bring big improvements in general health and help keep the pain that is induced by gallstones under control.[1]


  • What are the complications that can arise if you have gallstones?
  • In the case of gallbladder inflammation, also known as acute cholecystitis, there may be severe gallbladder stone pain in the upper abdomen, very high temperature, and rapid heartbeat. In such a situation, a patient may have to be given intravenous antibiotics or advised surgery to get rid of a section of the lining that is severely damaged. Other complications that may arise are jaundice, infection of the bile ducts, acute pancreatitis, gallstone ileus, or even gallbladder cancer.

  • What kind of food should be avoided if you have gallstones?
  • If you have gallstones, it is advised that you avoid eating too many foods with a high saturated fat content. These could be food items such as meat pies, sausages and fatty meat cuts, lard, ghee, butter, hard cheeses, cream, cakes and biscuits, and food that contain coconut oil and palm oil. The best gallbladder stone home remedy is thus keeping your food habits in check.

  • Is being overweight a cause of gallstones?
  • Since the amount of cholesterol in the bile increases the risk of developing gallstones, controlling weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise is essential.


    In this article, we explored the different signs and symptoms associated with gallbladder stones, ranging from mild digestive disturbances to severe abdominal pain. We have also delved into what is gallbladder stone, how gallbladder stones are formed, and the underlying causes of gallstones, including factors such as cholesterol imbalance, excess bilirubin, and gallbladder motility issues. Furthermore, we have looked at the diagnostic methods employed by healthcare professionals to identify gallstones accurately, such as ultrasound imaging and blood tests. In addition, various approaches, ranging from gallbladder stone ayurvedic treatment, lifestyle modifications, and dietary changes to medical interventions and surgical procedures, can help deal with gallstones easily.


    This article is written from a health and wellness perspective only and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.


    1. Overview-Gallstones
    2. Management of acute calculus cholecystitis with integrated Ayurveda and Yoga intervention: A case report