Bilirubin is the yellow brownish substance that is produced when the liver breaks down or takes apart old red blood cells. Bilirubin is then passed out of the body through the feces or stool and bilirubin is what gives feces its brown color. People are tested for bilirubin to measure the amount they have in their blood. A newborn full-term baby's bilirubin level is considered high at 15-20 mg, however if the infant is being breastfed in will generally quickly level off and will start dropping on its own. In some cases however the majority of doctors may decide that some steps need to be done to lower the bilirubin level, especially if the baby is not being breastfed and the bilirubin level continues to climb.
Lowering High Bilirubin Level in Newborns
Begin by stopping breastfeeding and supplementing with formula until the bilirubin starts to lower, and then restart breastfeeding. While the baby is on formula, continue to pump your breasts to maintain proper milk production or lactation and decrease the chances of a breast infection.2
Start photo-therapy treatment if necessary. The physician may decide to place your baby under photo-therapy lights in the hospital nursery or a photo-optic bilirubin wrap may be used at home.3
Feed the baby often to help removal of the bilirubin from the baby's body. The bilirubin will be removed out of the baby through the feces and because babies tend to soil diapers often with frequent feeding, this will lower the bilirubin. This is especially true with breastfed infants.
Lowering High Bilirubin Levels in Adults takes a Much Different Approach
Begin with abstaining from alcohol and tobacco consumption. Alcohol tends to raise bilirubin in a person's body and can be life threatening.5
Look into the cause of the high bilirubin count, if there is a medical condition such as cancer or hepatitis, treatment for the disease will be necessary to lower the bilirubin level. Treatment for some medical conditions may only require medications, while some high bilirubin conditions may require additional therapies.6
Look into whether the cause of the high bilirubin is due to gallstones or liver problems such as cirrhosis, in which case surgery may be required to correct the bilirubin problem. In some instances even a liver transplant may be necessary if the liver is completely dysfunctional.7
Try some alternative therapies for lowering bilirubin levels. Many all natural alternative therapies are available for lowering bilirubin levels, however you should discuss any alternative therapy with a physician before starting.8
Try some dietary changes, jaundice and high bilirubin symptoms can be caused by an iron deficiency. Possible dietary changes or iron supplements may help lower bilirubin levels. Also fasting and dietary restriction can cause increase in bilirubin levels.