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Gallstones and Weight Loss

The illness and pain that gallstones cause are formidable. For their diminutive size, they bring a great many unpleasant symptoms, including pain in the shoulder and shoulder blade, fever, nausea and vomiting, and pain in your upper and middle abdomen that typically starts abruptly and worsens quickly. 

You might also develop jaundice, which gives your skin and eyes a yellow tone.

Gallstone risk factors include being female (there are twice as many women who suffer from gallstones than men), being over 60, living with diabetes, and being obese. The conundrum is that even though being significantly overweight can lead to gallstones, so can fasting and simply losing weight too rapidly. 

Ronnita Holden, PA, and the team at Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills are experts in treating the problems that accompany gallstones and teaming up with you to prevent them in the future. 

We understand how life-altering it is to have the pain of gallstones, or the uncertainty of when pain will strike and how long it will last. 

What are gallstones, exactly?

Your gallbladder, located on your right side, under your liver, produces and holds your bile, which is digestive fluid. When bits of bile harden, gallstones develop, and then they just sit there Eventually, they can start causing problems.  

Gallstones can be as tiny as a speck of dirt or as large as a golf ball. You can also have them but suffer no symptoms, in which case no treatment is needed.

The link between gallstones and weight loss

While you can develop gallstones if you’re unable to lose weight, the very act of attempting to lose weight — especially if you do it too quickly — also raises your risk for them. 

The reason? If your body is in rapid weight loss mode, your liver reacts by producing greater amounts of cholesterol or bilirubin (a golden substance, also secreted by the liver into your bile, that helps your body break down red blood cells). This overproduction puts your body into a disequilibrium.

Losing three or more pounds per week would be considered accelerated weight loss and could tip you toward gallstones. Both strict dieters and those who’ve had bariatric surgery can lose this amount per week.  

What if I develop gallstones?

If you end up with gallstones that cause symptoms,  a range of treatments can help, depending on your condition:

Surgery is common because other treatments can take long periods of time to effectively provide relief. 

How can I lose weight safely in order to avoid gallstones?

Fortunately, we offer weight loss services based on sound practices. It’s one of the many benefits of medically supervised weight loss: Since we’re overseeing every aspect of your weight loss plan and your progress, you won’t lose too many pounds too quickly, taming the risk of developing gallstones. 

The North Carolina Center for Weight Loss Management has proven to be the most effective approach for our patients. Our providers not only create a nutritious and sensible eating plan for you, but offer tools like safe, FDA-approved appetite suppressants, and injections that actually cause your body to burn more fat. 

Very importantly, you can ask questions and get needed support as you travel along your weight loss journey from beginning to end.

We also help you with other components of a successful plan in addition to what you eat, like incorporating physical activity into your life and managing your stress well. 

Weight loss obviously supports your good health in many ways, and reduces your chances of being affected by many other health conditions in addition to gallstones. 

We’re here to help you control your weight in the healthiest way possible, and help you steer clear of gallstones. 

Call our office in Cameron, North Carolina, at 919-295-6862 to schedule a consultation with us, or request an appointment online. You can also send a message to the team here on our website.

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