Gallstones are hard, pebble-like masses that form in your gallbladder, which is a small pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, below your liver.
Gallstones are formed from a digestive fluid called bile that is released by the gallbladder.
For reasons doctors don’t fully understand stones form in the bile that block the tubes that carry the digestive fluids from your gallbladder to your bowel. The stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.
You may develop one gallstone or many. You could have gallstones and never have any symptoms or problems. But if you do experience pain or other symptoms that you think may be due to gallstones, visit your doctor.
If your doctor suspects that gallstones are the cause, you’ll probably be tested for gallstone disease.
Gallstones can be made of undissolved cholesterol (called cholesterol gallstones) or bile (pigment gallstones).
Although diet doesn't directly cause gallbladder problems, or cure them, choosing a diet that’s low in fat and cholesterol and high in fibre, and maintaining a healthy weight, may help you prevent gallstones from forming and avoid discomfort if gallstones form. It’s possible that keeping to a healthy weight might also reduce your chances of having gallstones.
Last reviewed: November 2018