What is low bilirubin, what are its causes, symptoms and how is it treated medically. Find out everything there is to know about decreased bilirubin.
It was Juan Luis Guerra, the well-known Dominican singer born in 1957 and winner of 18 Latin Grammys, who made bilirubin popular back in 1990, which he published on his album Bichat Rosa and which managed to rank 31st in the EU. Latin. Since then, it has made many people aware of this parameter that we traditionally find in blood tests that we perform routinely from time to time.
Although at that time it became a popular song with certain comical characteristics, the truth is that when we find ourselves before an elevated bilirubin it is not something funny. On the contrary, it is a symptom or sign of the existence of some type of pathology or condition of the liver, pancreas or gallbladder.
And what are the causes of high bilirubin? Actually they are varied, although the most common is due to the presence of liver damage. In fact, the analysis of bilirubin becomes a good tool to evaluate the possible existence of liver damage, in the same way that blood transaminase tests are useful.
For example, it can increase as a result of a condition that is causing liver damage, such as chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, liver necrosis, or even excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
But liver damage is not the only cause. As we mentioned before, it can also be due to conditions of the gallbladder or pancreas. Especially, it can arise as a result of gallstones, due to obstruction in the bile ducts, or due to the existence of some alteration of the channels of the pancreas.
But, did you know that we can also find ourselves with decreased bilirubin values? It is what is medically known as low bilirubin, and today we want to discover a little more about it.
What is low bilirubin? What does it consist of?
Bilirubin is a yellow-orange pigment that results from the breakdown of red blood cells. It is, therefore, a liquid that is the result of a normal and healthy process of destruction or decomposition of aged cells (in this case, red blood cells, responsible for providing oxygen to the different tissues of our body).
The process by which bilirubin is eliminated from our body is as follows: it circulates normally through the blood; it goes to the liver where it is eliminated through the bile ducts. Then, it is stored in the gallbladder to be released in the small intestine (for the digestion of fats in the form of bile) or to be eliminated through feces.
As its name suggests, low bilirubin occurs when we are faced with decreased bilirubin values in the blood test, below what is considered normal. Normal values for direct bilirubin range from 0 to 0.3 mg/ld., while total bilirubin should be around 0.3 to 1.9 mg/LD. Therefore, low bilirubin will appear when total bilirubin values are below 0.3 mg/LD.
It is known that when bilirubin rises, especially above 2.5 mg/ld., it tends to cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes). But what happens when it is diminished?
Causes of low bilirubin
Although it is not as well known, did you know that low levels of bilirubin can be a first symptom or sign of the presence of coronary disease? These are diseases that affect normal coronary flow, as well as the different coronary micro vascular functions.
In fact, medically it is known that when bilirubin is low, the risk of suffering from some type of cardiovascular disease increases, especially in those cardiovascular pathologies that are especially related to what is known as oxidative stress (a good example is peripheral arterial disease).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
It is a type of depression that appears as a result of the arrival of the seasons of the year. Although medically it is known as such, it is a kind of seasonal depression that is usually popularly known as autumnal asthenia or spring asthenia (depending on the season of the year in which we find ourselves).
It is not known why, but it is known that a person with low bilirubin levels may be at higher risk of seasonal affective disorder.
Consumption of certain drugs
Bilirubin can drop as a result of taking some drugs or medications. This occurs especially in certain drugs that increase the metabolic rate of the liver (phenobarbital and other painkillers).
On the other hand, it can also be lowered by the consumption of stimulants of the nervous system (theophylline or caffeine). As well as by the consumption of penicillin or vitamin C.
Symptoms of low bilirubin
While high bilirubin can cause jaundice, what happens when it’s low? It can cause sudden and severe headache, loss of balance and dizziness, depression, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and breathing.
In addition, we must bear in mind that this sign or signal is actually a symptom of another disease or pathology, so it may be accompanied by angina pectoris, cardiac arrest, a feeling of weakness and numbness in some parts of our body.
How is it treated?
In most cases, bilirubin reaches normal levels naturally and without medical treatment. However, depending on the cause that has caused its decrease, treatment may be required.