Disease: Gilbert's syndrome


    Gilbert's (zheel-BAR) syndrome is a common, harmless liver condition in which the liver doesn't properly process bilirubin. Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.

    If you have Gilbert's syndrome — also known as constitutional hepatic dysfunction and familial nonhemolytic jaundice — you're born with it as a result of an inherited gene mutation. You might not know you have the condition until it's discovered by accident, such as when a blood test shows elevated bilirubin levels.

    Gilbert's syndrome requires no treatment.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    The only indication of Gilbert's disease is that your skin and the whites of your eyes occasionally have a yellowish tinge (jaundice) as a result of the slightly elevated levels of bilirubin in your blood. Some conditions and situations that can increase bilirubin levels, and thereby jaundice, in people with Gilbert's syndrome include:

    • Illness, such as a cold or the flu
    • Fasting or eating a very low-calorie diet
    • Dehydration
    • Menstruation
    • Stress
    • Strenuous exercise
    • Lack of sleep

    When to see a doctor

    Make an appointment with your doctor if you have jaundice, which has many possible causes.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    An abnormal gene you inherit from your parents causes Gilbert's syndrome. The gene normally controls an enzyme that helps break down bilirubin in your liver. With an ineffective gene, excess amounts of bilirubin build in your blood.

    How the body normally processes bilirubin

    Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment made when your body breaks down old red blood cells. Bilirubin travels through your bloodstream to the liver, where normally an enzyme breaks down the bilirubin and removes it from the bloodstream.

    The bilirubin passes from the liver into the intestines with bile. It's then excreted in stool. A small amount of bilirubin remains in the blood.

    How the abnormal gene is passed through families

    The abnormal gene that causes Gilbert's syndrome is common. Many people carry one copy of this gene. In most cases, two abnormal copies are needed to cause Gilbert's syndrome.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    If your doctor suspects Gilbert's syndrome because you have unexplained jaundice or blood tests for other conditions show elevated bilirubin levels, he or she will examine you and ask about symptoms of liver disease, such as abdominal pain or dark urine.

    Your doctor may recommend more blood tests to rule out other liver problems that can cause elevated bilirubin. Common blood tests include:

    • Complete blood count
    • Liver function tests

    The combination of normal blood and liver function tests and elevated bilirubin levels is an indicator of Gilbert's syndrome. No other testing usually is needed, although genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    The low level of the bilirubin-processing enzyme that causes Gilbert's syndrome may also increase the side effects of certain medications, since this enzyme plays a role in helping clear these medications from your body.

    These medications include:

    • Irinotecan (Camptosar), a cancer chemotherapy drug
    • Some protease inhibitors used to treat HIV

    If you have Gilbert's syndrome, talk to your doctor before taking new medications. Also, having certain types of Gilbert's syndrome may increase your risk of developing gallstones.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    Certain life events, such as stress, can trigger episodes of higher bilirubin levels in Gilbert's syndrome, leading to jaundice. Managing those situations can help keep bilirubin under control.

    These steps include:

    • Make sure your doctors know you have Gilbert's syndrome. Because Gilbert's syndrome affects the way your body processes certain medications, every doctor you visit needs to know about the condition.
    • Eat a healthy diet. Avoid extremely low-calorie diets. Stick to a routine eating schedule, and avoid fasting or skipping meals.
    • Manage stress. Find ways to deal with the stresses in your life, such as exercise, meditation or listening to music.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Although it's present from birth, Gilbert's syndrome usually isn't noticed until puberty or later, since bilirubin production increases during puberty. You have an increased risk of Gilbert's syndrome if:

    • Both parents carry the abnormal gene that causes the disorder
    • You're male

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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