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Biliary calculus or gallstones

Cholelithiasis or biliary calculus are hard deposits or stones formed within the gallbladder as a concretion of bile components. The gallbladder is a small pear -shaped organ found on the right-hand side of the abdomen, just below the liver. The gallbladder contains a digestive liquid called bile that is freed into the small intestine.

Gallstones can vary in size, from the size of small grains of sand or as large as a golf ball. The number of stones is also variable; there can be only one or many over time.

There are two principal types of gallstones:

  • Stones made of cholesterol. This is the most common type. Cholesterol gallstones are not related to cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Stones made of bilirubin. These are called pigment stones. They occur when red blood cells are destroyed and too much bilirubin is in the bile.

 

Symptoms

Many people with gallstones do not have any symptoms. The gallstones are often found during a routine x-ray, abdominal surgery, or other medical procedure.

However, if a large stone blocks a tube or duct that drains the gallbladder, you may have a cramping pain in the middle to right upper abdomen. This is known as biliary colic. The pain goes away if the stone passes into the first part of the small intestine.

Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Pain in the right upper or middle upper abdomen for at least 30 minutes. The pain may be constant or cramping. It can feel sharp or dull.
  • Fever
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

Other symptoms may include:

  • Clay-colored stools
  • Nausea and vomiting

Prevention

Heredity and genetics factors seem to play an important role in cholelithiasis which makes the possibility of preventing it more difficult. Nevertheless, there are triggering factors that can help in avoiding gallstones:

  • Maintain a healthy weight; avoid rapid weight loss
  • Eat regular, balanced meals
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid certain medicines (those to reduce cholesterol; hormone therapy)

Gene or region studied

  • UGT1A1, UGT1A3, UGT1A4,UGT1A5, UGT1A6, UGT1A7,UGT1A8, UGT1A9, UGT1A10
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