Total Bilirubin

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The Bilirubin Test is a medical test used to measure the level of bilirubin in the blood or urine. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment produced when red blood cells break down. The liver processes bilirubin and excretes it in bile, which is then passed out of the body in the feces. If there is an excess of bilirubin in the body, it can cause jaundice, a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow. The bilirubin test can help diagnose liver or red blood cell problems that may be causing jaundice. The test involves taking a small blood sample from an arm vein or collecting a urine sample. The results of the test can help doctors determine if treatment is needed to lower bilirubin levels and prevent further complications.

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Awaiting result:

One day

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Collect material:

Blood

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Prepare:

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Purpose of the test

The bilirubin test is a valuable tool for diagnosing and managing various conditions related to liver or red blood cell function. The test measures the level of bilirubin in the blood or urine, which can help doctors identify potential health problems and determine appropriate treatment options.

Some of the goals of a bilirubin test include

- Diagnosing liver disease: High levels of bilirubin in the blood can indicate liver damage or disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer. Early detection of these conditions can help prevent further damage and improve treatment outcomes.
- Monitoring liver function: The bilirubin test is often used to monitor liver function in patients with chronic liver disease or those being treated for liver-related conditions.
- Identifying red blood cell disorders: High levels of bilirubin in the blood can also be a sign of hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are produced. This condition can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms if left untreated.
- Evaluate for jaundice: Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow due to high levels of bilirubin in the body. The bilirubin test can help determine the cause of jaundice and guide appropriate treatment.

In order to effectively manage these conditions, early detection through regular testing is critical. If left untreated, high levels of bilirubin in the body can lead to serious complications such as liver failure or brain damage.

You should know that while high levels of bilirubin can indicate an underlying health problem, low levels generally aren't a cause for concern. However, it's still important to discuss any abnormal test results with your healthcare provider to determine if further testing or treatment is needed.

A bilirubin test can help diagnose and treat several liver and red blood cell disorders, as well as evaluate jaundice. Early detection through regular testing can prevent serious complications and improve treatment outcomes.

Who Should Get Tested

The bilirubin test may be indicated for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of liver or red blood cell disorders, as well as those who may be at risk for these conditions.

Some groups of people who may need to be tested include

- Newborns: Bilirubin testing is commonly done in newborns during the first few days of life and when signs of jaundice appear. This is because high levels of bilirubin can lead to complications such as kernicterus, a type of brain damage.
- People with liver disease: People with chronic liver disease or those being treated for liver-related conditions may need regular bilirubin testing to monitor their liver function and assess treatment effectiveness.
- Individuals with a family history of liver disease: If you have a family history of liver disease, your healthcare provider may recommend regular bilirubin testing to monitor your liver function and detect potential problems early.
- People with symptoms of anemia: Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath may indicate anemia, which can be diagnosed with a bilirubin test.
- People with symptoms of jaundice: If you experience yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, your healthcare provider may recommend a bilirubin test to determine the cause.

You should discuss any concerns or symptoms with your healthcare provider to determine if further testing is needed. Regular testing can help detect potential health problems early and improve treatment outcomes.

Blood Test Preparation Guidelines
Time of day
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It is recommended to schedule your appointment for blood tests in the morning hours between 7:00-10:00.
Fasting
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It is recommended to fast for approximately 12 hours before blood sampling. The last meal of the previous day should ideally be consumed around 6:00 p.m. On the day before the test, avoid heavy and fatty meals as well as alcohol.
Stay hydrated
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Drinking water prior to testing can help with sample collection.
Other factors
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Tests should not be performed after a sleepless night or intense physical activity. It is recommended to avoid exercise and stress immediately before blood collection and to not smoke. A short rest is recommended.
Medications and supplements:
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Blood samples should be collected before the morning dose. Some drugs can interfere with test results. Consult with your doctor whether you can delay your dose because of lab tests.
Biotin supplements:
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High doses of biotin supplements can affect test results, causing false elevation or reduction. It's recommended to avoid taking biotin for at least 72 hours before blood collection. If you are taking biotin, inform the personnel collecting the blood so that they can provide specific instructions.
Interpreting Test Results

Interpreting the results of a Bilirubin Test requires an understanding of what is considered normal and abnormal levels of bilirubin in the blood or urine.

Here are some general guidelines for interpreting bilirubin test results:

- Normal total bilirubin levels in adults typically range from 0.3 to 1.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Normal direct (conjugated) bilirubin levels in adults typically range from 0 to 0.3 mg/dL.
- Normal indirect (unconjugated) bilirubin levels in adults typically range from 0.2 to 1.2 mg/dL.

An elevated level may indicate a problem with liver or red blood cell function, and further testing may be needed to determine the underlying cause.

For example

- High total bilirubin levels may indicate liver disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, or red blood cell disorders, such as hemolytic anemia.
- High direct bilirubin levels may indicate bile flow problems such as gallstones or cholangitis.
- High indirect bilirubin levels may indicate problems with red blood cell function, such as hemolytic anemia.

Your healthcare provider will interpret your test results. It's important to note that abnormal test results do not necessarily mean you have a health problem, and more tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will interpret your test results based on your individual situation and medical history.

Interpreting bilirubin test results requires an understanding of normal and abnormal levels of total, direct, and indirect bilirubin in the blood or urine. Abnormal results may indicate a problem with liver or red blood cell function, and further testing may be needed to determine the underlying cause.

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