I recently wrote an article on my nightmarish ordeal with appendicitis. One of the interesting and strange limbs that grew from that tree was a diagnosis of a syndrome I didn’t even know I had. I suppose it was a good thing that they ran all of those blood tests when I was admitted to the emergency room that evening.
It was noted that my skin had a slightly orange hue to it while they were running their initial lab tests. Apparently, my bilirubin was elevated, which caused some concern among my doctors. Much later I learned that bilirubin is a substance produced by the liver from broken down red blood cells. It’s what makes things like bruises and urine yellow.
Originally, my elevated bilirubin level was attributed to my acute appendicitis but upon a recheck of my lab work during a follow-up visit a couple of weeks following my appendectomy, my bilirubin was still elevated. My pediatrician decided to run some tests on my liver, although, all of the tests were normal. With the exception of my bilirubin.
After many theories and tests, the pediatrician came to the ultimate conclusion that it was a syndrome called Gilbert’s Syndrome. Luckily, for me, it’s not a serious condition and is generally not harmful, nor does it require any special treatments. Gilbert’s Syndrome is a gene mutation that I inherited from one of my parents so, I feel perfectly justified blaming them for this. All kidding aside, Gilbert’s Syndrome has one stand-alone symptom: jaundice.
Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Brownish in more serious cases. Besides that, your urine could be discolored yellow or brown badly, as well as your stools. There is usually an underlying problem causing jaundice (such as an infection) therefore making it more of a symptom really.
Because the liver produces the bile and bilirubin that produces the discoloration, the liver is generally the problem or at the very least a starting point for your physician(s) to look at and there are many different conditions and diseases that affect the liver, thus causing jaundice.
Hepatitis A-E, Cancer, Cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones and taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can all damage the liver and cause jaundice so not seeking medical attention is a very bad thing. While some diseases and conditions are rather difficult to diagnose, at least your physician(s) can rule out many of the other common causes and can tell you exactly how to deal with whatever is causing it.
Maybe my appendicitis was a coincidence but I am still thankful that it unearthed my syndrome