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Bilirubin test

Also known as Bilirubin Total Blood
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What is this test?

Total bilirubin is a combination of direct and indirect bilirubin. This test measures the amount of bilirubin in the body. This test is performed to check the functioning of your liver. Total bilirubin is a part of a panel of tests that determine if your liver is functioning properly.

Role of Liver:

The liver produces bile which helps in digestion of food. Bilirubin is one of the components of bile. The liver plays an important role in the excretion of bilirubin. If your liver function is abnormal, this may lead to a build-up of bilirubin in the body.

Why this test is performed?

Usually, this test is performed as a part of a group of tests to know the functioning status of your liver. Your doctor may ask you to undergo this test if you have been diagnosed with liver diseases such as hepatitis, jaundice (yellow fever), etc. hemolytic anemia (a disease where the destruction of red blood cells occurs). If you are receiving medications or other treatments for your liver diseases, you may be advised to undergo this test to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Since many drugs cause harmful side effects on the liver, this test may be performed to estimate drug toxicity.

This test may be recommended to you if you exhibit symptoms like stomach pain, dark urine, flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, yellowish skin and eyes, itchy skin, and fatigue, etc.

Also known as Bilirubin Total.

Test Preparation

Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Bilirubin test. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Bilirubin test.

Do not take any food or drinks for at least 4 hours before the test. Some medicines may interfere with the test results, so your healthcare provider may ask you to stop certain medications for a few days before the test. Hence, you are advised to inform your healthcare provider about your current medical conditions as well as your current medications before undergoing this test.

Understanding your test results

Increased levels of bilirubin in the blood are known as jaundice. This may indicate liver damage. Various disorders or diseases such as a rapid breakdown of red blood cells, erythroblastosis fetalis (a severe blood disorder affecting newborn babies), hemolytic anemia, blood transfusion reactions; gallbladder disorders including gallstones and biliary stricture, cancer of pancreas; liver disorders such as liver cirrhosis, Gilbert disease (a disorder in which bilirubin is unprocessed by the liver), hepatitis where the liver is inflamed or swollen, etc.

Newborn babies usually have high levels of bilirubin as compared to adults. However, this is a normal reaction to the stress of birth and bilirubin levels usually stabilize over a few days. If the bilirubin levels for these babies continue to remain high or continue to increase, this may indicate jaundice or other liver problems.

Lower levels of bilirubin are usually not a cause for concern. Certain medications like phenobarbital, theophylline, etc. may also cause lower levels of bilirubin.

The normal reference ranges may vary depending on gender, age, and health history, etc. Hence, if your test results are abnormal, consult your doctor for further instructions. Based on the test results, your doctor may advise you appropriate medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, or further diagnostic tests.

GenderAge groupsValue
UNISEXAll age groups0.3 to 1.2 mg/dl
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