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Food DiaryFor Jaundice

What are the symptoms of high bilirubin?

High bilirubin levels in the blood, a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia, can lead to a range of symptoms and visible changes in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is produced when red blood cells break down. It is normally processed by the liver and excreted in the bile, but when there is a disruption in this process, bilirubin can accumulate in the blood and tissues. The symptoms of high bilirubin levels can vary based on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Here is a comprehensive overview of the symptoms associated with high bilirubin:

Jaundice: One of the most recognizable symptoms of high bilirubin levels is jaundice. Jaundice causes a yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. This occurs when bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream and is deposited in the tissues, leading to the characteristic yellow coloration.

Dark Urine: High bilirubin levels can result in dark-colored urine. This change in urine color is due to the presence of bilirubin breakdown products that are eliminated through the urinary system. The urine may appear brown or amber.

Pale Stools: Conversely, stools may become pale or clay-colored when bilirubin is not effectively processed by the liver and does not reach the intestines to give stool its normal brown color.

Fatigue: Elevated bilirubin levels can be associated with fatigue and general weakness. This can be due to the underlying condition causing hyperbilirubinemia, such as liver disease or hemolytic anemia.

Abdominal Pain: Some individuals with high bilirubin levels may experience abdominal discomfort, especially if the cause of hyperbilirubinemia is related to liver or gallbladder issues.

Nausea and Vomiting: Elevated bilirubin levels can affect the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Itching (Pruritus): In some cases, high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream can lead to itching (pruritus). This itching is often generalized and can be quite bothersome.

Yellowing of Other Tissues: Aside from the skin and eyes, bilirubin may also accumulate in other tissues, such as the inside of the mouth, leading to a yellowish appearance.

Behavioral Changes (In Severe Cases): In rare cases, when bilirubin levels are extremely high, especially in newborns with a condition called kernicterus, there may be neurological symptoms, including changes in behavior, irritability, and even seizures.

It’s essential to note that these symptoms can vary based on the specific condition causing high bilirubin levels. If you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, especially jaundice, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional can diagnose the underlying cause of hyperbilirubinemia and recommend appropriate treatment based on the specific condition and its severity.

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