Gilbert's Syndrome

Gilbert’s syndrome (GS) syndrome is a mild genetic liver disorder. It is a harmless condition, in which the liver does not process the bilirubin (formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin) completely. GS is also referred to as constitutional hepatic dysfunction and familial nonhemolytic jaundice. It is an inherited deficiency of an enzyme that is involved in the metabolism of bilirubin. Approximately 3-12% of people may have GS.

Normally, the GS cannot be identified by the symptoms until it is observed in the blood test reports. Mild elevations of bilirubin in blood occur during prolonged fasting, consumption of alcohol, or dehydration. The elevated levels of unconjugated bilirubin in the blood are called hyperbilirubinemia. It is caused due to the reduced activity of glucuronyltransferase.

GS is mostly seen in males, and it is an inherited gene disorder that is present during birth. It cannot be noticed until puberty, as the production of bilirubin increases at this stage.

Symptoms

The elevated levels of bilirubin in blood can lead to yellowing of skin and eyes. Certain conditions like stress, dehydration, illness, cold lack of sleep, fasting, menstruation, and strenuous exercises aggravates bilirubin levels.

Some of the Gilbert’s syndrome symptoms are:

  • Feeling sick
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Straw colored urine

However, these signs and symptoms may not directly indicate GS, they are also seen in other health conditions.

Causes

It is believed that GS is due to reduced activity of an enzyme that is useful in the processing of bilirubin. It is an inherited condition and the cause of reduced activity of the enzyme is unknown.

Diagnosis

GS is diagnosed by a general physical examination followed by blood tests, urine tests, and liver function tests. The elevated bilirubin levels can be an indication for GS. Sometimes, genetic testing may also be suggested by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

There is no specific Gilbert’s syndrome treatment, as the bilirubin levels in the blood fluctuate and the condition becomes normal on its own.