Can you explain jaundice and bilirubin?

I’ll try and you can also find information in medical literature. It’s fairly common for newborns to be jaundiced in the first few weeks of life. For those that aren’t familiar with newborns, jaundice is a yellowing of the eyes and skin. It’s most noticeable in the whites of the eyes – instead of white, they can appear a dingy yellow. This discoloration is caused by a buildup of bilirubin.

Bilirubin is a pigment in bile, which is the toxin excreted by the liver. My disease has issues with the bile ducts, so there’s a buildup of bile and hence bilirubin.  A normal total bilirubin value is 0.3 – 1.9 mg/dL. Once a person gets to be around 3.0mg/dL it becomes noticeable in the eyes and the skin also starts to have a yellow-ish tinge. I have dark yellow pee as a result of too much bilirubin. I have no idea how it compares to others, because I firmly believe that “bathroom time is private time.” But the doctors ask me whether it looks like tea. I shrug and mumble.

My bilirubin levels have fluctuated from less than 3 to a high of 5.7mg/dL. My last test was at 4.4mg/dL. Some days the yellowing is more noticeable than other days. I don’t think the average person would know that I look jaundiced, but whenever I go to the hospital, it’s one of the first observations from the nurses. If you want to see how bad it can get, google images is a great place to freak yourself out (not recommended).

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