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September 2005, Volume 35 Number 9 , p 45 - 45




Nurse Practitioner, Olathe Medical Systems, Inc., Olathe, Kan. Consultant, Continuing Nursing EducationKansas City Community College, Kansas City, Kan. What are gallstones?

Gallstones are like little rocks that develop inside the gallbladder—a small, pear-shaped organ located on your right side, beneath your liver. The gallbladder stores and releases bile, which helps you digest fats. No one fully understands why gallstones form, but changes in the bile may play a part. If the ducts (tubes) carrying bile are blocked by gallstones, the gallbladder may become inflamed and painful. Your health care provider may refer to gallbladder inflammation as cholecystitis and gallstones as cholelithiasis .

Being overweight or drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing gallstones. Frequent fasting and rapid weight loss (more than 3 pounds [1.4 kg] in a week) also can lead to gallstones.

Some people are more likely than others to get gallstones. In the United ...

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