What are some facts about Gilbert's disease?


Quick Answer

Gilbert's disease is a generally harmless and common liver condition that sometimes causes jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, due to an accumulation of bilirubin in the body, Mayo Clinic explains. An inherited genetic mutation causes it. Gilbert's disease generally requires no treatment.

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Full Answer

The body produces bilirubin when it breaks down red blood cells, says Mayo Clinic. Normally, the liver breaks down the chemical and excretes it with the feces, but Gilbert's disease causes a deficiency in the protein that breaks it down. This causes excess bilirubin to accumulate in the bloodstream. Certain conditions cause bilirubin levels to increase, which include fasting, menstruation, strenuous exercise, stress and the flu. Other conditions that can increase bilirubin levels include dehydration and lack of sleep. In people with Gilbert's disease, these conditions make jaundice more likely.

People with Gilbert's disease should maintain a healthy diet and avoid skipping meals, according to Mayo Clinic. Because the condition can affect the way medications affect the body, all medical professionals that treat a patient need to know that the patient has the condition. This is because some medications require the same deficient enzymes that process bilirubin to remove them from the body.

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