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What is jaundice?

Excessive accumulation of bile pigments in the bloodstream and body tissues causes a yellow to orange and sometimes even greenish discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and mucous membranes. This condition is called jaundice. Jaundice is best seen in natural daylight and may not be visible under artificial lighting.

The degree of coloration depends on the concentration of the bile pigment in the blood, the tissue diffusion rate, and the absorption and binding of bilirubin by the tissue. Bilirubin enters tissue fluids and is more easily absorbed at sites of inflammation and edema. The most common mechanisms to cause jaundice are the excessive production of bile by the liver, producing more than can be easily excreted; congenital defects that can interfere with the removal of bile pigments or cause overproduction; the inability of liver cells to remove bile pigments from the blood due to liver disease; leakage of bilirubin removed by the liver back into the bloodstream (insufficiency); or obstruction of the bile ducts. A healthy newborn baby may develop jaundice because the liver is not fully mature. This type of jaundice usually goes away within a few weeks when the liver starts working properly. What are the Causes of Jaundice? Jaundice can occur when excess bilirubin builds up in the body. This may occur for the following reasons.

If too many red blood cells are dying or breaking down and going to the liver (hemolytic jaundice.) If the liver is overloaded or damaged Bilirubin from the liver is not moving properly into the digestive tract In the above cases, jaundice is usually a sign of a problem with the liver, gallbladder or pancreas. It can also occur from: Infections, most commonly viruses. Use of certain drugs. Cancer of the liver, bile ducts or pancreas. Blood disorders, gallstones, birth defects and some other medical conditions.

What Are the Symptoms of Jaundice?

Jaundice causes the skin and whites of the eyes to appear yellow. Other symptoms may occur along with jaundice. These are: Itching Dark urine White colored stools (Glass paste colored stools) Loss of appetite Weight loss Fever Mental changes such as fatigue or confusion Abdominal pain.

What are the Treatment Methods for Jaundice?

Medical treatments for jaundice target the cause of jaundice. These treatments may be as follows: Hepatocellular jaundice is treated with antiviral drugs and steroids. Hemolytic jaundice is treated with iron supplements. Further investigations are performed for the cause of hemolytic jaundice. Obstructive jaundice is treated with surgery followed by medication to remove the blockage. There is also drug-induced jaundice, that is, jaundice that occurs as a side effect of some drugs. In such cases, medications are discontinued and alternative medications are prescribed.


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