Gilbert's syndrome

Gilbert's syndrome is a common, mild liver condition in which the liver doesn't properly process a substance called bilirubin. Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.

Gilbert's (zheel-BAYRZ) syndrome typically is harmless and doesn't require treatment.

Gilbert's syndrome is caused by an inherited gene mutation. You're born with Gilbert's syndrome, though it often goes undiscovered for many years. Gilbert's syndrome is often discovered by accident, such as when you have a blood test that shows elevated bilirubin levels.

Gilbert's syndrome is also known as constitutional hepatic dysfunction and familial nonhemolytic jaundice.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

The lone sign of Gilbert's disease is that your skin and the whites of your eyes occasionally have a yellowish tinge (jaundice). This is caused by the slightly elevated levels of bilirubin in your blood. Some conditions and situations may increase bilirubin levels, and thereby jaundice, in people with Gilbert's syndrome. These include:

  • Illness, such as a cold or the flu
  • Fasting or eating a very low-calorie diet
  • Dehydration
  • Menstruation
  • Stress
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Lack of sleep

The jaundice will go away when these conditions resolve.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience jaundice. Jaundice has many possible causes.

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