Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is produced in the body when red blood cells are broken down. In healthy individuals, bilirubin levels are usually within the normal range, but sometimes levels may be above the normal range. In this article we look at what is considered high bilirubin, the causes, symptoms and treatment options.
In healthy adults, the normal range for bilirubin is usually 0.2-1.2 mg/dL (3.4-20.5 μmol/L). However, the exact reference values may vary from laboratory to laboratory, so always refer to the specific laboratory results. High bilirubin levels can generally be divided into three categories.
– Mildly elevated bilirubin (1.3-2.9 mg/dL or 22.2-49.5 μmol/L): This mild elevation usually causes few symptoms and usually does not require treatment.
– Moderately high bilirubin levels (3.0-10.0 mg/dL or 51.3-171.0 μmol/L): These moderately elevated levels may already cause symptoms such as jaundice (yellowish discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes), fatigue, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
– Severely high bilirubin levels (>10.0 mg/dL or >171.0 μmol/L): These very high levels can cause severe symptoms, including severe jaundice, nausea, vomiting, confusion, cramps and signs of liver or biliary tract problems.
Causes and diagnosis: High bilirubin levels can be attributed to a variety of causes. One of the most common causes is liver problems such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or biliary obstruction. In addition, genetic disorders, side effects of drugs or haematopoietic disorders can also cause high bilirubin levels.
High bilirubin levels are diagnosed by a doctor, usually through a blood test. The bilirubin level in the blood will help the doctor determine the cause and further tests if needed.
Treatment options. If the high level is caused by liver disease, the basic treatment is management of liver problems, including medication, diet and lifestyle changes. In the case of bile duct obstruction, surgery may be needed to clear the blockage.
It is important that high bilirubin levels are always assessed and treated under medical supervision. The doctor will be able to determine the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan based on the individual case.
Conclusion. High bilirubin levels can be mild, moderate or severe, and the severity of the symptoms will depend on the extent of the elevation. It is important that high bilirubin levels are always evaluated and treated under medical supervision to determine the cause and to select appropriate therapy.