Depending on the kind of stone, what causes gallstones can differ for each patient. This can also change the therapy used to treat the condition.
Cholesterol stones are caused from excess cholesterol and bilirubin, but not enough bile salts. Also, a malfunctioning gallbladder that does not empty correctly can also cause an excess of these materials. When the materials harden, gallstones form.
What causes gallstones in patients with pigment stones has yet to be determined. These type of gallstones tend to develop in patients with these other conditions:
- Biliary tract infection
- Hereditary blood disorders (like sickle cell anemia)
Obesity, Women and Gallstones
While doctors may not fully understand what causes gallstones, these are some of the factors that increase a patient’s risk:
- Obesity, especially in women or during rapid weight loss
- Increased estrogen from pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
- Genetic predisposition to gallstones (Native Americans have a higher rate in the US)
- Women have higher risk than men
- People over 60 are at a higher risk
- Those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Patients with diabetes
- Patients who fast