What is Gilbert's syndrome?

What is Gilbert’s syndrome?
Gilbert's syndrome is a genetic disease, is inherited from parents and affects bilirubin levels in the bloodstream.

The Gilbert’s syndrome is a liver condition that usually does not cause major damage and is when the organ does not process bilirubin correctly. This is a substance that is produced when red blood cells are eliminated. Gilbert’s syndrome, or constitutional liver failure, is a genetic condition that is possibly inherited from a family member. It is common for the disease to be discovered by accident, when bilirubin levels are high. 

As for its possible treatment, specialists assure that it does not require any specific treatment. However, it does have symptoms and one of the most frequent is the yellowish color of the skin and the white part of the eye. 

The reason for this atypical coloration in the body is due to elevated levels of bilirubin. The levels in the blood of this substance can increase noticeably due to: 

  • Cold or flu
  • Low calorie diet or fasting.
  • Dehydration
  • Menstruation
  • Stress and intense exercise.
  • Interrupted rest 

Should I consult a doctor?

The main indicator of Gilbert’s syndrome is jaundice, it is of utmost importance to see a specialist when noticing differences in skin and eye color. In fact, this liver disease is not the only one that has jaundice as a sign. 

However, the reason for Gilbert’s syndrome comes from a gene that is inherited from the parents. This gene controls an enzyme, which is in charge of reducing bilirubin in the liver. 

What is bilirubin?

It is a yellowish pigment and is generated when the body disintegrates old red blood cells. bilirubin then travels through the bloodstream to reach the liver, where the enzyme is responsible for eliminating the substance. 

The bilirubin moves from the liver to the intestines to be expelled in the feces and only a small amount should remain in the blood. The syndrome is usually identified at puberty or later stages of puberty because bilirubin increases during this period of growth, and if you are male and both parents carry the gene, there is a higher risk of having the disease.

If you have Gilbert’s syndrome, it is advisable to consult with your doctor if you are allowed to take new medications. This is because the condition increases the chances of side effects. 

It is of utmost importance to pay attention to the alarms and signs that the body gives off, with the intention of preventing or treating any disease.

Ana Henríquez, Editor

Content intern Fundahígado América

Eugenia Jiménez Alvaréz, proofreading

Assistant to the coordination of Fundahígado América

Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences


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