Bilirubin: What it is and What it does

Bilirubin: What it is and What it doesBilirubin is a yellowish pigment found in bile, a fluid made by the liver. A small amount of older red blood cells are replaced by new blood cells every day. Bilirubin is left after these older blood cells are removed. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool. Bilirubin can be found in two forms in the body – direct bilirubin, which is soluble and indirect bilirubin, which is insoluble. All people have bilirubin in the body, but if the levels of this substance go very high from things like liver failure, Gilbert syndrome, gallbladder infections, and certain medications, it could lead to several health problems, some of which could include jaundice and brain injury.

Since jaundice is very common in children and newborn babies, most doctors monitor their levels of bilirubin. In case of suspected jaundice in adults, doctors may conduct tests and refer to the normal range of this substance in the adult bilirubin chart.

If an adult shows the symptoms of high bilirubin levels such as yellowing of the whites of the eyes or yellowish tinged skin, a doctor may recommend a bilirubin test. Once the results are available, the reading is compared to the bilirubin chart for adults showing whether levels are normal or not. In order to analyze the bilirubin levels in adults, a doctor looks at the values of three things – direct bilirubin, indirect bilirubin, and total bilirubin.

In cases of high bilirubin it is important to begin treatment immediately.

Treatment can include:

  • Medications
  • Liver transplant

If you have been diagnosed with high bilirubin levels or are noticing the symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Johnson to find the best treatment options for you.

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