Gilbert’s Syndrome

What is Gilbert’s Syndrome?

Gilbert’s Syndrome is a hereditary condition that involves an increase of serum bilirubin in the body. As this happens, the result would be yellow discoloration of the skin called jaundice. The condition is also referred as benign unconjugated bilirubinemia and familial nonheomolytic jaundice. The Gilbert’s syndrome was first identified and described by Augustin Nicolas Gilbert in the year 1901, as this explains the coining of the syndrome’s name. As history tells us, the condition is a common disorder due to a genetic mutation. This means, the condition can be attained through the genetic makeup we acquire from both of our parents. Epidemiological reports have stated that this condition is common in the United States and in some areas of Europe. About 3 to 7% of those affected of Gilbert’s syndrome are from the United States. The number of cases has varied from time, as the time increases the number also does. As reported, the condition is common in men than in women. It has been noted that 3 out of the affected, two are men.

In order to diagnose such condition, blood tests are done. As the result shows that there’s an elevation of unconjugated bilirubin in the bloodstream, Gilbert’s syndrome is expected. The normal serum bilirubin level is between 1.2 to 5.3 mg/dL. This lab result is only possible when a person has had fasting for two days, as this diagnostic exam demands of for an accurate result. A liver function test is done in order to assess the clients’ liver capabilities. Testing for the serum lactate dehydrogenase levels is essential. An elevation of the said blood component would suggest for hemolysis. Then we can rule out for the almost-the-same condition. Another test is known as the nicotinic acid test. This involves administration of nicotinic acid, as a result other conditions can be ruled out. Other test would involve liver biopsy test, but is a rare procedure for Gilbert’s syndrome.


The condition’s presenting symptoms include only the yellowish discoloration of the skin. It may also include discoloration of the whites of the eyes. To summarize the symptoms, enumeration of the symptoms is as follows:

  • Yellow discoloration of the skin or known as jaundice
  • Yellow discoloration of the sclera
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain

The condition shouldn’t be taken lightly for this can voice out or indicate other serious conditions of the liver. In order that indicative treatment is provided to clients, seeking medical advice once the symptoms present should be done.


Gilbert’s syndrome is characterized by the increased levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is not a harmful substance of the body, but with increased levels, this can bring an alarm to the person for it can result to discoloration. Bilirubin is a result of the breakdown of our red blood cells. Normally, liver enzymes of the body break down the bilirubin as this is usually excreted in our stools. Bilirubin gives color to the stools and urine for breakdown results to bile, but as they are excreted small amounts of bilirubin stays in the blood.

As mentioned above, the condition is acquired genetically. The genetic component responsible for this syndrome is having the abnormal gene promoter region for UGT1A gene, an inherited trait from a parent. This suggests that the condition is an autosomal recessive disorder. The condition cannot be acquired if only one of the parents have the abnormal gene.

Those at risk of condition are the following:


  • Immunocompromised patients or prone to illnesses
  • Those who have a very low calorie intake
  • Dehydrated patients
  • Those who are in a lot of stress
  • Those who undergo strenuous exercises


Direct treatment for Gilbert’s syndrome is not necessary. The aim of the doctor is to alleviate the client’s symptoms. But these are advised to patients in order to attain health:

Have a healthy diet

Eat healthy foods such a fruits and vegetables. Do not leave out calories in the diet; they are still important to one’s health. One should follow the liver cleansing diet. This would include eating of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Have plenty to drink in a day. This is advised to patients as this facilitates cleansing. About 8 glasses a day should be the least number for water therapy. Avoid fatty foods such as those foods that are deep fried. Limit intake of chicken and eggs for they may contain artificial hormones that can damage the liver. Taking of artificial sweeteners is not advised.

Live a stress-free life

Manage stress when it comes. Attend yoga sessions as this can help you manage stress.

The condition is considered benign. The condition has good prognosis. It is still important that the one would seek medical advice as to identify the problem accordingly.

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