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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Gilbert syndrome


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Cholemia, familial
  • Gilbert's disease
  • Hyperbilirubinemia Arias type
  • Hyperbilirubinemia type 1
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Your Question

I was recently diagnosed with Gilbert syndrome. My birth mother passed it on to me. I was curious to see if there are any ways to help with the jaundice. It is mild, but makes the whites of my eyes turn yellow. It is very emarrassing and annoying that this symptom keeps coming back. How can this issue be fixed?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Gilbert syndrome?

Gilbert syndrome is a common, mild liver disorder in which the liver doesn't properly process bilirubin, a substance produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. Gilbert syndrome typically doesn't require treatment or pose serious complications. In fact, Gilbert syndrome is usually not considered a disease because of its benign nature. Many individuals find out they have the disorder by accident, when they have a blood test that shows elevated bilirubin levels. More males than females have been diagnosed with Gilbert syndrome.[1] This condition is caused by mutations in the UGT1A1 gene and is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern.[2]
Last updated: 5/2/2011

How is Gilbert syndrome inherited?

Gilbert syndrome is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of a person with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.[2]
Last updated: 5/2/2011

How might Gilbert syndrome be treated?

Gilbert syndrome generally doesn't require treatment. The bilirubin levels in the blood may fluctuate over time, causing episodes of jaundice. However, the jaundice is usually mild and goes away on its own. In some cases, doctors may prescribe phenobarbital to lower extremely elevated bilirubin levels and reduce signs of jaundice. Phenobarbital administration usually alleviates signs of jaundice fairly quickly.[1][2]
Last updated: 6/8/2011