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What is Gilbert's syndrome?

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Quick Answer

Gilbert's syndrome is a common condition that affects the liver's ability to process bilirubin, according to Mayo Clinic. The syndrome usually does not require medical treatment, and doctors consider it harmless. A genetic mutation is the direct cause of Gilbert's syndrome.

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What is Gilbert's syndrome?
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Full Answer

Gilbert's syndrome involves the liver enzyme UGT1A that breaks down bilirubin, states MedicineNet. Due to an inherited gene mutation, this enzyme is abnormal and does not function properly. This condition is also called constitutional hepatic dysfunction as well as familial nonhemolytic jaundice.

Discovery of Gilbert's syndrome often occurs accidental through a normal blood screening or when a person seeks medical attention for jaundice, MedicineNet explains. Doctors commonly discover it after puberty since the changes in the sex hormone levels usually cause the amount of bilirubin to rise.

Gilbert's syndrome has just one symptom, which is the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, states Mayo Clinic. This symptom is called jaundice, and elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood cause it. Certain conditions, such as dehydration, stress, fasting, illnesses such as a cold or flu, extreme exercise and lack of sleep, cause the bilirubin levels to increase. Consumption of alcohol also causes a rise in bilirubin levels.

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