What is Hyperbilirubinemia?

Hyperbilirubinemia is an excess of bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment that is contained in bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When the liver is damaged, this can disrupt the normal breakdown of bilirubin and can lead to its accumulation in the bloodstream. This can cause conditions such as jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Causes of Hyperbilirubinemia

Hyperbilirubinemia can be divided into two types – unconjugated (indirect) and conjugated (direct). Unconjugated bilirubin is caused by increased red blood cell destruction, which can be due to:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Red blood cell disorders
  • Infections
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Toxins

Conjugated bilirubin can be caused by a range of different liver and gallbladder conditions or cancers, including:

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Gallstones
  • Hepatitis
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Bile duct obstruction

Diagnosis of Hyperbilirubinemia

Hyperbilirubinemia is usually diagnosed through a blood test. The test measures levels of both unconjugated and conjugated bilirubin. It can also measure other liver enzymes, which can help confirm a diagnosed liver disease.

Treatment of Hyperbilirubinemia

The treatment of hyperbilirubinemia depends on the underlying cause. In many cases, this can include lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol consumption or avoiding certain foods. Medications may also be prescribed to help reduce bilirubin levels, and in some cases surgery may be required.

In cases of jaundice or other symptoms, supportive treatments may be needed to help relieve these symptoms and to prevent any complications.