What are gallstones?

24th February 2024

We’ve all heard of gallstones, but what are they, why are they made and who do they affect?

What are gallstones?

When produced, gallstones live in the gallbladder, which stores bile for us between meals. This bile helps us absorb our food (especially fats). Gallstones are small, solid lumps that form. They can be made when the bile becomes hard and stone-like. Most of the time, they cause no symptoms and people are unaware they have them.

Facts and Figures

  • Gallstones affect 10 – 15 out of 100 people.
  • Women are three times more likely to have gallstones than men.
  • Women who have had children and have an unhealthy, high body weight are more likely to develop gallstones.
  • You are more likely to develop gallstones if you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis.
  • You are more likely to develop gallstones if you have undergone a period of fast weight loss (a weight loss of more than 1.5 kg per week).
  • The risk of developing gallstone symptoms increases with age.
  • Nearly a quarter of females (and a smaller proportion of men) suffer symptoms from gallstones by the age of 60.
  • The risk of developing gallstones is higher with increasing waist measurement, even among people who have a healthy weight.

Our guts have been underfunded, undervalued and undervalued for decades. Guts UK exists to change that. Information truly is power and we are passionate about providing expert, evidence-based information to patients. Imagine making informed decisions and taking control with this information. That’s why we’re here.

We can only continue to help people with your support. Together we can do more. Please consider donating to Guts UK today.

Discover more:

  • twitter
  • facebook
  • linkedin
  • youtube
  • tiktok
  • instagram

Read more posts...

Flushing away the poo taboo, together!

What is it that stops us from talking about our digestive health, or poo, as openly as we’d talk about having a cold, a headache or back pain? After all, our poo is an indication...

7th March 2024

Testing for blood in your poo: the home test kit

What is a faecal-immunochemical test (FIT test)? You may know that the NHS offers national bowel cancer screening checks, by sending you a home kit. This home kit requires you to collect a small sample...

3rd April 2024

An unlabelled faecal immunochemical test sample tube lies on top of a sheet of paper that reads faecal immunochemical test test return envelope with instructions on top of a wooden table.