A bilirubin test measures the amount of bilirubin in your blood. It’s used to help find the cause of health conditions like jaundice, anemia, and liver disease.
Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment that occurs normally when part of your red blood cells break down. Your liver takes the bilirubin from your blood and changes its chemical make-up so that most of it is passed through your poop as bile.
If your bilirubin levels are higher than normal, it’s a sign that either your red blood cells are breaking down at an unusual rate or that your liver isn’t breaking down waste properly and clearing the bilirubin from your blood.
Another option is that there’s a problem somewhere along the pathway that gets the bilirubin out of your liver and into your stool.
Why Do You Get This Test?
In children and adults, doctors use it to diagnose and monitor liver and bile duct diseases. These include cirrhosis, hepatitis, and gallstones
It’ll also help determine if you have sickle cell disease or other conditions that cause hemolytic anemia. That’s a disorder where red blood cells are destroyed faster than they’re made.
High levels of bilirubin can cause a yellowing of your skin and eyes, a condition doctors call jaundice.
High bilirubin levels are common in newborns. Doctors use the age of the newborn and the bilirubin type and levels to determine if treatment is necessary.
What Happens During the Test?
A nurse or lab technician will draw blood through a small needle inserted into a vein in your arm. The blood is collected in a tube.
With newborns, blood is usually drawn by using a needle to break the skin of the heel.
Your doctor will send the blood to a lab for analysis.
Before the test, tell your doctor about how active you’ve been and what food and medicines you’ve taken. Certain medications may alter your results.
After the test, you’ll be able to continue with your normal activities right away.