What Causes Gallstones?

Author: Liz Kovac

Gallstones are hardened pieces of bile (digestive acid) that are formed in the gallbladder and are linked to having high cholesterol. If these stones become stuck in a duct, you may experience what is called a gallbladder attack, which includes the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in your upper right or center abdomen lasting several hours
  • Tenderness to your abdomen when touched
  • Yellow-ish color to your skin or white of your eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Tea-colored urine and light-colored stools


“Gallstones vary in size and number. Sometimes gallstones can be asymptomatic,” said Dr. Chelsea Smith, General Surgeon at McLaren Lapeer Region. “If you do begin experiencing gallbladder attacks, surgical removal of the gallbladder can be a necessity.”


Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a top predictor for gallstones. Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthfully and exercising regularly. If you are working to lose weight, do so gradually, not rapidly, as rapid weight-loss can increase cholesterol levels in bile which leads to a higher chance of developing gallstones.

Eat healthfully: Avoid excessive saturated fats, sugar, and carbs, but make sure to eat your fruits and vegetables. Coffee has been found to prevent gallstones.

Medication: If you have high cholesterol, talk with your doctor about the best course of action to help lower it. This may include medication along with appropriate diet and exercise.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you need a physician referral, call (810) 667-5714.