Gilbert syndrome, also known as hepatic dysfunction and familial nonhemolytic is a genetic condition inherited by parents. A person having this syndrome will have increased level of bilirubin pigment in their body. The liver is not able to do its function properly that is processing it. It can result in yellow color of eyes and skin – jaundice.
This syndrome is harmless and does not need any treatment. Many of the people do not realize the fact that they are going through gilbert syndrome until they have a diagnosis of it. In the United States of America, 3 to 7 percent of the population have Gilbert syndrome and they do not know about it.
Usually, people having gilbert syndrome do not experience any symptom and most of the people, around 30% diagnose it by having their routine tests. Bilirubin is made by the breakdown of red blood corpuscles.
In Gilbert syndrome, the liver due to this genetic inherited abnormality is not able to handle and process the bilirubin pigment and as a result, it accumulates in the body. A person having gilbert syndrome will have jaundice. Jaundice is a medical condition in which a person’s eye becomes light yellow (the white part of the eye). If the level of bilirubin pigment further increases in the body then the skin also turns light yellow.
Very high level of bilirubin pigment can cause itching but this is not the case in Gilbert syndrome as in it the level of the pigment is not so high. The factors which can raise the amount of bilirubin in a body and make the symptoms more obvious include:
• Alcohol consumption
• Lack of sleep
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A person having Gilbert syndrome is unlikely to develop any kind of specific symptom other than jaundice. Jaundice can be very disturbing for you. Some of the people also go through abdominal discomfort and feel lethargic, however, research states otherwise. According to research, there is no link between the increased level of bilirubin level and these symptoms.
Doctors and dietitians say that you don’t need to change your diet but have to avoid alcohol. Plus with avoiding alcohol one also needs to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. Stay healthy by following these given points.
• Avoid fasting and try to avoid very low-calorie meals.
• Follow a complete balanced healthy diet which will contain many fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Try to take your meals on time and do not skip any of it.
According to a study of one patient following the paleolithic diet can help to improve the condition of bilirubin levels. However, the link between paleolithic ketogenic diet and the level of bilirubin pigment is not proved yet by any other research.
A baby is born with Gilbert syndrome when he takes a syndrome gene from his parent or parents. A person is more likely to have Gilbert syndrome if both of the parents pass on their gene. As a result of this gene passing, the baby gets an increased level of bilirubin pigment in his blood – hyperbilirubinemia.
It is due to the reduced activity of enzyme glucuronyltransferase. This enzyme converts and conjugates the bilirubin pigment into a water-soluble form as soon as the bilirubin pigment is released after the 120 days lifespan of red blood corpuscles. When bilirubin is converted into a water-soluble form it goes into the duodenum through bile and is egested out of the body.
Many of the people diagnose themselves with Gilbert syndrome in their late teens or twenties. Diagnosis is based on the slightly elevated amount of water-soluble form of bilirubin pigment. It does not require any genetic testing.
To have an accurate result, doctors make use of phenobarbital and intravenous nicotinic acid. Phenobarbital lowers the bilirubin pigment level in the body while on the other hand, nicotinic acid increases the level of bilirubin pigment in the body.
Usually, the diagnosis of Gilbert syndrome is done during the routine tests or when a patient’s liver profile is asked when he has jaundice. If the other tests show a negative result while the bilirubin level test shows a positive result, there are high chances that the person is having Gilbert syndrome.
The doctor will then perform other tests to make sure that there is no other reason behind the elevated amount of bilirubin pigment in the body. This syndrome does not require any treatment but makes sure you do not have any other serious condition.
This syndrome does not cause any health problem and is commonly known as a harmless syndrome. That is why no patient requires any treatment for it.
The symptoms of jaundice are disturbing, however, they are not constant and there is nothing to worry about. It usually does not require any long-term monitoring but if the symptoms get worse one should immediately contact the doctor. So the doctor will be able to see if you have developed any other condition. As this syndrome is harmless it will not damage your liver and does not have any complications except for jaundice.
Other Causes for Increased Level of Bilirubin Pigment in the Body
The level of bilirubin can be increased due to many other reasons too such as:
Due to liver cancer or liver inflammation bilirubin stays back in the liver, as the flow path of bile is interrupted.
It is known as harmless jaundice and is because of increased levels of beta-carotene, not bilirubin. It can give skin a light yellow color same as jaundice and is due to excess consumption of carrots, melons, and pumpkin.
• Hemolytic anemia
Bilirubin increase in a body when red blood corpuscles are destroyed before completing their lifespan.
• Acute inflammation of the liver
This can be because of prescribed drugs, viral infection, alcohol, and fatty liver.
• Dubin-Johnson Syndrome
This type of syndrome is inherited and is the chronic form of jaundice. It does not allow the conjugated bilirubin to leave the liver cells.
• Obstruction of the Bile duct
It is mostly related to gallstones but it can also be because of gallbladder and bile duct cancer, also pancreatic cancer.