4 reasons for high bilirubin levels
Found in bile produced by the body, bilirubin is produced when old red blood cells are broken down by the liver. The hemoglobin in the red blood cells is converted to bilirubin. Bilirubin is brownish yellow. It is ejected from the body through stools.
Bilirubin circulates in the bloodstream in small amounts. Although this small amount is not harmful, an excess of bilirubin in the body can lead to a lot of health complications. Diseases of the liver, red blood cells or gallbladder can lead to high bilirubin levels in the body. It may cause jaundice and yellow discoloration of the skin or whites of the eyes. Here are four reasons that may cause high bilirubin levels:
- Gallbladder and bile duct disease: High bilirubin levels can be caused due to damage or blockage of bile ducts. The blockage can be caused due to a condition known as cholestasis. This condition can also reduce the secretion of bile from the liver leading to high bilirubin levels. Gallbladder stones can also cause the levels of bilirubin to increase.
- Liver diseases: To be ejected from the body, bilirubin needs to be in soluble form. The conversion into soluble bilirubin is done by the liver. Conditions such as hepatitis and cirrhosis cause the liver to malfunction and interfere with the conversion of bilirubin. Thus, bilirubin is not excreted from the body, leading to an increased level in the body. Genetic conditions such as Dubin-Johnson syndrome and Gilbert syndrome can also lead to high bilirubin levels.
- Hemolytic anemia: This condition causes a premature breakdown of the red blood cells. This increased rate of red blood cells breakdown leads to an increased production of bilirubin in the body. Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus can also cause hemolytic anemia leading to high bilirubin levels in the body. Specific types of leukemia, lymphoma, and Epstein-Barr virus can also bring about hemolytic anemia.
- Medications: High bilirubin levels can also be caused by the use of certain medications. These medications affect the functioning of the liver and the production of bilirubin in the body. Certain types of antibiotics that are used to treat gout can lead to high bilirubin levels. Psychiatric drugs, antibiotics, estrogen drugs, and anabolic steroids can also lead to high bilirubin levels. The excess use of medications that prove to be toxic to the liver can cause the levels of bilirubin in the body to go up.