What Level of Bilirubin Causes Jaundice?

Jaundice is a condition characterized by the yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and it occurs when there is an excess of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that forms as a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. Elevated levels of bilirubin can lead to jaundice, but the specific level at which jaundice becomes noticeable can vary from person to person.

In general, clinical jaundice is often noticeable when the bilirubin level in the blood (serum bilirubin) is greater than 2.5 to 3 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). However, the severity of jaundice can vary depending on factors like an individual’s skin tone and the rate at which bilirubin levels rise. Some people may exhibit jaundice at lower levels of bilirubin, while others may not show visible signs until bilirubin levels are higher.

It’s important to note that the specific bilirubin levels at which jaundice becomes apparent can vary between infants, children, and adults. Newborns, for example, have higher bilirubin levels shortly after birth, and they may develop jaundice at lower thresholds than adults.

Jaundice can be caused by various factors, including liver diseases, blood disorders, and conditions that increase the breakdown of red blood cells. When jaundice is observed, healthcare providers typically conduct further evaluations to determine the underlying cause and the appropriate treatment.

If you or someone you know is experiencing jaundice or has concerns about elevated bilirubin levels, it’s important to seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. Elevated bilirubin levels may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires appropriate medical management.