Gilbert Syndrome

Gilbert syndrome is a rare inherited condition, which affects the liver. Caused by a gene mutation, this disorder causes the liver to improperly process bilirubin. Although this disorder is present at birth, it usually isn't diagnosed until later in life, which is often by accident through a routine blood test. Rarely, Gilbert's syndrome produces serious complications and doesn't require treatment.

Gilbert's syndrome is caused by an inherited gene that controls the enzyme responsible for breaking down bilirubin in the liver. If one or both parents carry the abnormal gene, the offspring has an increased risk for the syndrome. When the gene functions improperly bilirubin begins to accumulate within the blood.

Most often, Gilbert's syndrome doesn't produce any symptoms; however, if bilirubin levels rise high enough symptoms of the syndrome can be experienced. Symptoms of this syndrome include a yellowish tinge to the whites of the eyes or skin, known as jaundice. Abdominal pain, fatigue and weakness are associated with the condition as well. Although most people don’t experience symptoms of the disorder, those that do often have an underlying illness. Symptoms often worsen during dieting or low calorie diets. Dehydration, stress and menstruation can cause the symptoms to worsen as well.

Complications from Gilbert’s syndrome are rare, but they can occur. A common complication from this disorder is jaundice, which occurs when bilirubin levels become elevated. The symptoms of this disorder can worsen when certain medications are used, such as chemotherapy drugs and medications used for HIV. It’s advised those with Gilbert’s syndrome inform their physician about the condition prior to taking any of these medications.

Gilbert’s syndrome is easily diagnosed through a simple blood test. Luckily, treatment for this disorder isn’t needed even with frequent episodes of jaundice. Episodes of jaundice resolve on its own without the need for treatment.

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