Gilbert’s syndrome is a common disease condition in which your liver does not properly process bilirubin. Breakdown of red blood cells leads to production of bilirubin. Gilbert’s syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a liver enzyme that is required for disposal of bilirubin is abnormal.
Gilbert’s syndrome is also referred as constitutional hepatic dysfunction or familial nonhemolytic jaundice. Mild elevation of bilirubin levels are seen in your blood due to enzyme abnormality. The elevation of bilirubin is generally experienced particularly after starvation, dehydration and excess consumption of alcohol.
Bilirubin is a yellow coloured pigment that is produced when your body breaks down old RBCs. Generally bilirubin travels through your bloodstream to the liver. In liver an enzyme breaks down the bilirubin. After the bilirubin is broken down, it passes through liver into the intestines with bile. From the intestine the bilirubin is excreted in stool.
Causes of Gilbert’s Syndrome
Gilbert’s syndrome is caused due to the genetic mutations in the promoter region of a gene located on chromosome 2. UGT1A gene undergoes mutation and this gene is inherited from your parents. A person with two copies of abnormal promoter region for UGT1A gene is known to have Gilbert’s syndrome. 2 copies are inherited in patient one inherited from each parent.
UGT1A gene controls an enzyme that is known to help in breaking down bilirubin. When ineffective genes are present in your body, it leads to excess accumulation of bilirubin in your blood resulting in Gilbert’s syndrome.
Gilbert’s Syndrome Symptoms
The common symptom of Gilbert’s syndrome is that whites of your eyes and skin occasionally have a yellowish tinge. Other symptoms apart from yellowing of skin include:
- Mild weakness
- Mild abdominal pains
- Loss of appetite
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Brain fog
What Triggers the Symptoms of Gilbert’s Syndrome
There are many factors that are known to trigger the symptoms of Gilbert’s syndrome. In most of the cases these triggers can cause jaundice. The most common possible triggers include:
- Being dehydrated
- Fasting or taking longer gaps between meals
- Being stressed
- Physical exertion
- Lack of sleep
- Monthly periods in women
Try to avoid these triggers to reduce the risk of severity of diseases. Most of the patients do not show any visible symptoms while suffering with Gilbert’s syndrome.
Gilbert’s Syndrome Diagnosis
Initially the Gilbert’s syndrome was diagnosed by two simple tests like:
- Complete blood count
- Liver function tests
- Genetic testing
Complete blood tests and liver function tests helps in determining the elevated bilirubin levels in your body. An elevated bilirubin level in your body is the basic indication of Gilbert’s syndrome. Genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis of Gilbert’s syndrome.
Liver damage results in release of enzyme in the blood. When theses enzymes are released in your blood, the proteins that are produced by the liver begin to drop. By measuring the level of enzymes in your blood you can determine the proper functioning of liver.
In most of the cases, the liver functions properly but, there is an increase in bilirubin levels in blood. This condition also confirms the presence of Gilbert’s syndrome. Gilbert’s syndrome is a lifelong disorder and it does not cause any complications or increase the risk of liver damage.