Jaundice, types, causes, symptoms, test and treatment

Jaundice, types, causes, symptoms, test and treatment
Written by Ganesh

Let us understand Jaundice, types, causes, symptoms, test and treatment because it is serious problem in the function of your red blood cells, liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. Jaundice is a medical condition which characterise by yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and of the white of the eyes.

It is because of elevated levels of the chemical bilirubin in the blood also known as hyperbilirubinemia. Bilirubin is a yellow by-product of the daily natural breakdown and destruction of red blood cells in the liver of the body. Normally, the liver gets rid of bilirubin along with old red blood cells in the form of bile.

It is not a disease but it is a symptom of several possible underlying illnesses. Jaundice forms when there is too much bilirubin in your system. Or when there is abnormality in metabolism or production of bilirubin.

Types of jaundice: There are three main types of jaundice

Hepatocellular  occurs as a result of liver disease or injury.  It is occur when the liver is not able to utilize bilirubin, resulting in it accumulating in the blood.

Haemolytic jaundice occurs as a result of hemolysis, or an excessive breakdown of red blood cells, leading to an increase in production of bilirubin.

Obstructive  occurs as a result of an obstruction in the bile duct. This prevents bilirubin from leaving the liver to reach the intestine. Such obstruction may be due to gallstones or to cholestasis. In cholestasis bile cannot flow from the liver to the duodenum.

Jaundice causes/ how jaundice is caused?

Jaundice causes/ how jaundice is caused?

There is a normal process in which old or dead red blood cells travel to the liver, and get break down to form bilirubin. Bilirubin is the yellow pigment. Jaundice occurs when your liver doesn’t metabolize bilirubin the way it’s supposed to.

This condition occur when liver get damage and unable to perform this process. Sometimes, the bilirubin simply unable to go to the digestive tract, where it should be removed through the stool.

On other hand it also possible when too much bilirubin trying to enter the liver at once, or too many red blood cells dying at one time.

If there is very high bilirubin then it can leak into the surrounding tissues. This is known as hyperbilirubinemia, and it causes the yellow colour in the skin and eyes.

Jaundice in adults

Alcohol abuse

Liver infection

Liver cancer or Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver, usually due to alcohol)

Gallstones (cholesterol stones made of hardened fat material or pigment stones made of bilirubin)

Swelling of the liver leads to Hepatitis

Pancreatic cancer

Parasites in the liver, which can block the excretion or removal of bilirubin from the body

Blood disorders, such as haemolytic anaemia (the rupture or destruction of red blood cells that lead to a decreased amount of red blood cells

Jaundice in newborns

Babies who are born prematurely may develop excess of bilirubin because their livers haven’t fully developed yet.

Jaundice symptoms

Depend upon the cause of jaundice individuals may experience different symptoms. It characterise by a yellow discoloration of the skin to varying degrees and of the white of the eyes. Individuals with jaundice may experience any of the following signs and symptoms:

Pale-colour stools

Dark-colour urine

Itching of skin

Vomiting and nausea

Rectal bleeding

Diarrhoea,

Fever and chills

Weakness and weight loss

Loss of appetite,

Abdominal pain and headache

Swelling of the legs, and the abdomen due to the accumulation of fluid

Read also: Heart attack Treatments and Preventions

What is the bilirubin test?

What is the bilirubin test?

This test is to measures the total bilirubin level (unconjugated and conjugated bilirubin). Bilirubin level can be check in blood, urine and amniotic fluid. In addition, newborns can be scan with a device to check bilirubin levels.

Jaundice in children or new-born

Jaundice in children or new-born

Jaundice is a common problem in new-born babies. The reason behind is liver is still in the developing stage, and the bilirubin does not get flushed out of the body regularly. The level of bilirubin usually goes down in two weeks after birth.

Read also: Roles of Vitamin B for healthy baby and mother

In children it can occur due to several reasons like

Weak liver, liver inflammation, or any liver infection

Inflammation or obstruction of the bile duct prevents removal of bilirubin

Haemolytic anaemia increases the breakdown of red blood cells, causing jaundice

Gilbert’s Syndrome, a condition that impacts normal functioning of enzymes, prevents disposal of bile from the body

Cholestasis is a condition during which passage of bile is prevented, resulting in excess bilirubin accumulation in the liver

Medical conditions such as malaria, sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia, hereditary spherocytosis, and a genetic syndrome called Crigler-Najjar syndrome can cause pre-hepatic jaundice

Viral hepatic infections like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C can cause haemolytic jaundice

Read also: Bad liver conditions means Hepatitis

Jaundice treatment

Jaundice treatment

Treatment for this disease depends on the underlying cause. Treatments may include the following:

IV fluids in cases of dehydration,

Medications for nausea/vomiting and pain,

Antibiotics and antiviral medications,

Blood transfusions,

Steroids and chemotherapy/radiation therapy, and

Phototherapy for new-borns

Self-Care at Home for Jaundice

Maintain adequate hydration by drinking fluids, and rest as needed

Take medications only as instructed and prescribed by a doctor

Avoid medications, herbs, or supplements which may cause detrimental side effects.

Avoid drinking alcohol

Provide adequate milk intake for the baby in cases of breastfeeding jaundice

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