Must know facts about bilirubin, a crucial digestive compound.

Bilirubin, a byproduct of red blood cells (RBCs) breakdown participates in important digestive functions.

Ever thought about why a patient’s body becomes yellowish while suffering from jaundice, a medical condition due to liver damage? This is due to the excess amount of bilirubin in the bloodstream. Digestion of fat is performed by the action of bile in the small intestine. This bile is formed by bilirubin, a yellowish brown fluid. If you are suffering from any digestive issues, mostly it is associated with bilirubin or bile activities. Therefore, you can understand the importance of bilirubin in your body.  Go through this article to know some other interesting details about bilirubin from its origin to its functions.

How bilirubin is formed, stored, and removed?

The liver breaks down damaged or old RBCs, leading to the formation of a yellow by-product named bilirubin. Bilirubin is found in 2 forms in the blood: indirect and direct bilirubin. The first one is an insoluble form while the latter one is soluble after processing in the liver. This chemical along with some cholesterol molecules and bile salts generates bile juice, a fluid crucial for digestion. After formation, bilirubin is stored in the gall bladder. As bilirubin comes out of the body by combining with feces and urine after helping in digestion, these excretory and waste products become yellow or brown in color.

Causes of elevated bilirubin concentration:

Elevated bilirubin concentration can indicate a wide range of health issues starting from gall bladder stones to liver damage. If you have pain in the upper abdomen just below the right chest region, you might be suffering from gallstones. Some other liver abnormalities like cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver cancer promote bilirubin concentration in the blood. In some cases, hemolytic anemia and bile duct inflammation can also increase the level of bilirubin. If a newborn baby has jaundice, it can be due to genetic predisposition which is a temporary stage usually treated with phototherapy.

High bilirubin levels and consequences:

The healthy range of total bilirubin (both direct and indirect) is 0.1- 1.2 mg/dL. If there is excess bilirubin in your blood, this medical condition is called hyperbilirubinemia. It is associated with disease in the liver, gall bladder, and improper digestion. The early signs of hyperbilirubinemia are fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, dark brown colored urine, and feces. At the extreme stage, people suffer from jaundice characterized by yellowing of eyes and skin.

Do not worry about a lesser value of bilirubin than usual. It has no serious health consequences.

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