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Gilbert's disease

Definition

Gilbert's disease is a common disorder passed down through families.It affects the way bilirubin is processed by the liver, and causes jaundice.

Alternative Names

Icterus intermittens juvenilis; Low-grade chronic hyperbilirubinemia; Familial non-hemolytic-non-obstructive jaundice; Constitutional liver dysfunction; Unconjugated benign bilirubinemia

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Gilbert's disease affects up to 10% of people in some Caucasian populations. The condition is usually noncancerous (benign).

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (mild jaundice)

Note: Jaundice typically appears during times of exertion, stress, not eating, and infection.

Signs and tests

An indirect bilirubin blood test shows changes that occur with Gilbert's disease.

Treatment

No treatment is necessary for Gilbert's disease.

Expectations (prognosis)

Jaundice may come and go throughout your life, especially during illnesses such as colds. However, it usually does not cause health problems.

Complications

There are no known complications.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have jaundice or persistent abdominal pain.

Prevention

There is no proven prevention.

References

Berk PD, Korenblat KM. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver test results. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 150.


Review Date: 4/23/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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