Bilirubin is produced by our livers and this substance can be found in our blood. While having bilirubin in your body is normal, excessive quantities can indicate a chemical imbalance or medical condition at some point in the body. What are the causes and symptoms for high Bilirubin in adults and children? How to deal with high Bilirubin?
Normal Bilirubin Level: It is normal for the results of a bilirubin test to be between 0.1 and 1 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) of total bilirubin (indirect and direct) and between 0 and 0.3 mg/dL for direct bilirubin. The results can vary between laboratories and those numbers are only normal for adult men. The normal results for women or children can be slightly different and in all cases they can be affected by strenuous exercise, medications or certain foods. Because of this, you should tell your doctor any foods or medications you have recently consumed in addition to your activity levels.
High Bilirubin in Adults
In adults the most common sign of high levels of bilirubin is a yellow color to the eyes and skin. Some other symptoms include fatigue, dark-colored urine, vomiting and nausea.
Causes & Risk Factors
Many different disorders may cause elevated levels of bilirubin because of a variety of reasons including blockage of the bile transport, problems with the processing and the breakdown of red blood cells.
- Liver Disease
Any of the disorders that destroy a large quantity of liver cells or disrupts the liver cell function may cause an increase in bilirubin levels. Transient elevations can be caused by acute hepatitis, circulatory shock and reactions to toxins or medicines. Persistently elevated levels can be caused by chronic liver diseases including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hemochromatosis, autoimmune hepatitis, chronic hepatitis C and alcohol hepatitis. There are also several disorder related to bilirubin metabolism including Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor’s syndrome and Gilbert syndrome.
- Biliary Disease
Diseases which affect your biliary tract system (this is responsible for transporting bile to your gallbladder) may cause an obstruction in the bile flow and in turn a buildup of bilirubin. This is called cholestasis and may be caused by pregnancy, Sjörgen’s syndrome, sarcoidosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis. Bile flow outside of the liver may occur because of bile duct or gallbladder cancer, bile duct strictures, pancreatic tumors, pancreatitis, cholangitis or cysts.
- Hemolytic Anemia
This is several conditions that involve the premature degradation of red blood cells. While red blood cells in a healthy person survive for around 120 days before they are removed and broken down, their survival time is significantly shortened with this disease. With fewer red blood cells, the liver is not able to maintain the proper levels of circulating bilirubin.
- Risk Factors
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry reports that females generally have lower levels of bilirubin then males. In addition, African Americans usually have lower levels as well. Risk factors include drug and alcohol abuse (including the abuse of prescription drugs).
Remedies to Help
Luckily there are several remedies to help lower your high bilirubin levels.
- Adjust your diet. The most important things to try to do include avoiding fried foods, cooking with less oil, having more fruits and vegetables, avoiding red meat (instead have lean meats and trim the fat), avoiding salt and spices, drinking carrot and orange juice and drinking hot water with a bit of lemon.
- Try herbal enema. Try to do this twice each day and make sure it is highly concentrated.
- Drink bayberry tea. Another option is white oak bark tea.
- Drink lemon juice. This is a great option if you have a fever as well as high bilirubin levels. You should have this each hour until your fever is gone.
- Have echinecea juice. Have this before each meal (three times a day).
- Have sugar every day. Three times a day, such on sugarcane. It has diuretic properties that will help you clear your body.
- Try turmeric and yogurt mixture. Use 50 grams yogurt and 10 grams turmeric powder. Have half in the morning and the other half at night for 15 days.
- Mix honey with neem leaves. Take 20 grams of pure honey and the same amount of neem leaves. Then add 3 grams black pepper powder. Have half of it in the morning, half at night.
- Avoid drinking and smoking. This will let your liver perform normally, preventing bilirubin buildup.
- Protect your liver. Simply take steps to support the healthy function of your liver.
- Take supplements. Take vitamin B complex, vitamin C and selenium.
High Bilirubin in Children
High bilirubin is fairly common in children. In fact, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry reports that around half of newborns have high levels.
The number of infants with high bilirubin is so large because infants have an immature liver and additional red blood cells at birth and each of these reasons can cause extra bilirubin to collect within the blood. In most cases the levels will reach normal counts within several days after birth but in some cases the high levels may be a sign that the mom and baby have incompatible blood types.
- Consider medical treatments. One medical treatment is phototherapy which eliminates excess bilirubin using light. The skin and blood absorb light waves that turn the bilirubin molecules into isomers which are water-soluble and can therefore pass out of the body. A biliblanket is an advanced form of phototherapy using fiber-optics. These use light like that of sunlight but filter out infrared energy and UV radiation. In addition, they allow you to do normal activities with your child, such as nursing, changing and holding them, during the treatment.
- Feed the baby often. High bilirubin can be caused by insufficient consumption of milk which is possible when the mother’s milk isn’t in yet or the child has problems feeding. Therefore, it usually helps to supplement with formula and to increase the frequency you feed your baby, which will help to remove bilirubin with frequent bowel movements.