What is Morbus Meulengracht?

The so-called Morbus Meulengracht (or Gilbert Syndrome) is a not uncommon disease or exact anomaly, named after the Danish internist Jens Einar Meulengracht (born April 7, 1887, † 1976). About 5 percent of the population are affected, although the symptoms can vary greatly.

Cause is dysfunction of the liver

The cause of Morbus Meulengracht is found in the process of hemoglobin degradation and is a dysfunction of the liver, which at times can not completely or sufficiently degrade the red blood pigment. Blood cells are usually recycled after about 120 days. The red blood pigment, hemoglobin, is broken down in the bone marrow, spleen and liver in several steps and converted into a water-soluble form.

In Meulengracht patients, however, the uptake and processing of a necessary breakdown product, the unconjugated bilirubin, is disturbed. As a result, increased concentrations of yellow blood pigment (= bilirubin) are temporarily found in the blood.

Symptoms of Morbus Meulengracht

As a symptom, yellow-colored skin and eyes appear. Patients may experience abdominal cramps and indigestion, especially between the ages of 15 and 40 years. This mainly affects thin patients after alcohol or nicotine consumption (also passive smoking). In particular, hunger and fasting are also the cause of complaints and it is essential to avoid what is contrary to other indigestion. In addition, bloating, nonspecific abdominal pain, and skin rash are sometimes reported as consequences of the disease.

Also, there is often an intolerance of alcohol, nicotine, hunger and stress. After consumption of alcohol or nicotine there is an increase in bilirubin, which is accompanied by increased yellowing of the eyes and skin. Fatigue (fatigue), malaise, nausea, and sometimes vomiting can be the result. The bile salt level and other liver values ​​are usually normal, causing no itching of the skin as in other diseases associated with yellowing of the skin.

Disease not curable

Morbus Meulengracht can be clearly identified by nicotinic acid or fasting tests. Another possibility of diagnostics is a molecular genetic examination. Morbus Meulengracht is not curable. Although it is possible to treat some symptoms, it is usually ignored, as the adverse health effect is too low and the side effects would not be justified.

The suffix "juvenilis" refers to the fact that people are affected by the disease only at a young age. From about the age of 40 she grows up.

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