Gilbert Syndrome (Mild Liver Disease)
Gilbert’s syndrome (GS) is a condition in which you have higher than normal amounts of bilirubin in your blood.
The medical name for this is ‘unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia’. It is also sometimes called familial nonhaemolytic bilirubinaemia or constitutional hepatic dysfunction.
These long names may not sound promising but GS is in fact a harmless condition. It is not a disease and it is possible that you may not even know you have it.
GS is usually discovered by chance when a routine or unrelated blood test reveals a rise in the level of bilirubin in your blood. It is likely you will be told that you have high or raised ‘serum bilirubin’.
This is not a bad thing in isolation, but until GS is specifically diagnosed you may be left to worry whether having high bilirubin is an indication of a more serious liver illness.
Although a benign condition, people do report some ill-effects from GS. These may or may not be related to other problems. This section of the website describes some of the symptoms most commonly mentioned and provides advice on how you might avoid these symptoms occurring.
In many cases, Gilbert’s syndrome is so mild that there are no obvious symptoms. It is often diagnosed by accident when blood tests are ordered to investigate an unrelated condition. In other cases, Gilbert’s syndrome may be accompanied by symptoms similar to more serious liver diseases, so thorough medical investigation is needed.
Diagnostic tests include:
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
A genetic test exists that can detect the gene that causes Gilbert’s syndrome, but this is not usually necessary for a diagnosis and is not widely available.
Gilbert’s syndrome is a mild disorder that typically doesn’t need medical treatment. People with the disorder lead normal, healthy lives. There is no evidence to suggest that the condition is harmful or leads to more serious diseases. Medication is available that may lower bilirubin levels and reduce the jaundice if this becomes a problem.