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The Relationship Of Gilbert’s Disease And Jaundice

Posted Apr 14 2010 4:02pm


Unpopular diseases such as Gilbert’s disease can be alarming once you are diagnosed with it because you will never know what will happen to you. Upon hearing that you are or you might be suffering from it, it can be hard to accept it because you don’t know what to do.

To ease the burden that people with Gilbert’s disease, doctors try to explain everything about the condition in layman’s terms. And one of the easiest ways to understand it is if it is compared to more common diseases that have similarities in it like jaundice.

What Gilbert’s disease is all about

Gilbert’s disease was first described by a French gastroenterologist names Augustin Nicolas Gilbert in 1901. Gilbert’s disease is an asymptomatic (no external symptoms) condition affecting the liver. The condition affect an enzyme in the body called urodine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase or UGT (abbreviation). UGT aids the liver in breaking down bilirubin which is found also in the blood stream.

Bilirubin is the waste product of the hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is found in the red blood cells that carry oxygen to other cells in the body to complete the cycle of respiration. After the red blood cells successfully brought the oxygen to the other parts of the body, the blood produces bilirubin. The liver cells then collect all the bilirubin produced by the blood, transfer it to the liver to be broken down into the gut, and turned to bile.

This is where UGT or urodine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase comes in, it helps the liver cells process the bilirubin in to bile. Gilbert’s disease affects the production of UGT, this is because it fluctuates the production of UGT in the body. The fluctuating levels of UGT greatly affect the levels of bilirubin retained in the blood. Bilirubin is orangey- yellow in color, which in turn causes a patient to have jaundiced skin.

What is jaundice?

Jaundice is the condition of the blood that has external manifestations. The two most common manifestation of Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and in the white of the eyes. Jaundice if one of the most common symptoms or manifestations of different liver diseases and sometimes it may be the cause of some discomfort among patients. The heightened bilirubin stores in the body and in the bloodstream causes jaundice but it usually has no serious effects and it can occur in people more than once in their entire lifetime. Mild jaundice is not always caused by diseases of the liver there are times when it may happen under conditions of over exertion, long term stress, intense fasting, and other bodily infections, but the condition is otherwise shows no external manifestations.

It happens when there is a flaw in the liver that averts from removing bilirubin from the blood, to be converted to glucuronic acid (conjugated) or excreted in bile in this case if the person has Gilbert’s disease.

Lastly, when there is obstruction of the bile ducts that reduces the stream of bile and bilirubin from the liver into the guts. The decreased conjugation, emission, or gush of bile that can result in jaundice refers to cholestasis: however, cholestasis does not always effect in jaundice.

Jaundice or cholestasis, by themselves, causes just a few problems (excluding the conditions of newborns, and jaundice in this case in newborns is different from most other types of jaundice.) Jaundice can make the skin and the whites of the eyes look sclera yellow. As well, stool can turn out to be light in color, even clay-colored because of the lack of bilirubin that usually gives stool its brown color. The urine may become dark or brownish in color. This takes place when the bilirubin that is building up in the blood starts to be excreted from the body in the urine.

Other than those scenarios there is not much to worry about if you have Gilbert’s disease, you may experience a jaundiced appearance but you can still enjoy a healthy life.

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