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Gilbert Syndrome

Gilbert syndrome is the most common inherited cause of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia.  This is a genetic condition, which is associated with intermittent levels of jaundice, in the absence of any sort of underlying chronic liver disease. The elevated bilirubin level is mild and generally less than a value of 6 mg/dL. Of interest, patients with Gilbert syndrome may have on occasion, normal bilirubin levels.

Gilbert syndrome and its associated rise in bilirubin may be precipitated by viral illnesses, excessive exercise, stress, starvation, dehydration, and a woman’s menstrual period.  Vague abdominal discomfort may be reported by patients as well as mild fatigue with no clear etiology.  No treatment is required for Gilbert syndrome.  Gilbert syndrome does not lead to more advanced liver disease, cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure.

Overall, the rate of Gilbert syndrome in the United States is roughly 3%-7% of the population.  As mentioned above, this is a completely benign condition and is not associated with any increased mortality.  No specific race is more at risk for Gilbert syndrome and it predominantly occurs in men.