What is Gilbert syndrome?
Gilbert’s syndrome is an inherited condition in which the liver of a person cannot completely process a compound called bilirubin, resulting in slightly high levels of the pigment. The bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream of the patient, causing a condition called hyperbilirubinemia.
The condition gives the skin and eyes of the patient a slightly yellow colour, or jaundice. While the condition isn’t harmful, it can cause some minor problems.
Gilbert syndrome is also known as constitutional hepatic dysfunction and familial nonhemolytic jaundice.
Gilbert syndrome Symptoms
Gilbert syndrome symptoms include:
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and the white parts of the eyes
- Slight discomfort in the abdominal area
- Nausea and diarrhea
Gilbert’s syndrome may not always cause noticeable symptoms. In many cases, the patient may never show any symptoms and may never know they have it or only find out by chance through routine tests.
Who is at risk?
People with a family history of Gilbert syndrome are at a higher Gilbert syndrome cancer risk. While the condition is mostly genetic, one might get it due to many other factors. Certain red flags for when an individual might be at risk are:
- Underlying liver condition
- Lifestyle factors and health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc.
- When medicinal interactions result in a change in levels of bilirubin
Gilbert syndrome causes
Gilbert syndrome causes are deducted from the fact that it is a genetic disease. A person is born with inherent Gilbert’s syndrome, with the gene being passed on from the parents to the child.
The gene can be passed on by one parent or both. However, a person is more likely to have the condition if both parents pass on the gene.
The gene that is passed on causes elevated blood levels of bilirubin or hyperbilirubinemia. The gene causes a reduced activity of the enzyme glucuronyltransferase. Without appropriate amounts of this enzyme, the body cannot process bilirubin effectively.
How is Gilbert syndrome diagnosed?
Gilbert syndrome diagnosis depends on the symptoms one might experience and the tests that the Gastroenterologists may perform. Here are some of the tests and actions the doctor may undertake.
- Blood Tests – The doctor may advise for certain blood tests to test liver functioning, vitamins, and compounds. Higher levels of bilirubin depict Gilbert syndrome. Blood tests are advised by doctors especially when doctors aren’t able to find an appropriate reason for jaundice or yellow-tinge on the skin.
- Ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI – Imaging tests are conducted to find out related diseases or conditions that may end up depicting higher levels of bilirubin
- Liver Tests – Usually higher level of bilirubin causes one or the other problem in the body. Special liver tests may be conducted to find the underlying cause and diagnose Gilbert syndrome.
- Genetic Test – The doctor may check on a gene mutation for Gilbert syndrome
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How is Gilbert syndrome treated?
Gilbert syndrome treatment isn’t required unless one experiences significant symptoms, fatigue, nausea, or other health problems. The doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications to provide relief from the symptoms or balance the bilirubin levels in the liver. Phenobarbital (Luminal) is one of Gilbert’s syndrome functional medicine prescribed by doctors.
How can Gilbert syndrome be prevented?
As Gilbert syndrome is harmless and does not require a solicited treatment for its cure, one may or may not be required to think or worry about it. But if one has a family history of Gilbert syndrome it is always safe to practice some Gilbert syndrome prevention measures and rule out the possibilities. Here are some of the things one can do.
- Exercises – One should exercise at least 30-45 minutes daily to be healthy and fit always
- A balanced diet – It is important to eat a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet for optimum care of the body.
- Healthy sleep patterns – Try to sleep at least 8-10 hours every night and follow a consistent sleep cycle.
- Mental Wellness – Practice body and mind relaxation techniques to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Listening to music, yoga, meditation, walk in the park, etc are of great help.
- Limit alcohol intake – People with a liver condition or a family history of the liver condition should quit alcohol immediately. However, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether to save one from a lot of health conditions
- Hydration – Drink an adequate amount of water daily to keep the body hydration and aid in body functioning.