The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that is found beneath the right side of your liver. Its main purpose is to collect bile, a liquid produced by the liver. Bile travels through ducts and is then delivered into the small intestine where it helps you digest the fat in your food.
Some people, however, tend to form gallstones. These are hard, rock-like lumps – varying in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters — and made up of cholesterol, bile salts and calcium. If you have a tendency to form stones, they may gather in your gall bladder and block the flow of bile. This can cause pain, vomiting, indigestion, and occasionally, fever. Some people may also develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. Attacks can last from a few minutes to several hours.
No one understands why some people form gallstones and others don’t, but both family history and hormones are thought to play a role. Women, people who are overweight, anyone with high cholesterol, people with chronic intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and people over 40 are all at higher risk.