Jaundice: Everything You Need to Know

Jaundice is a condition caused by excessive amounts of bilirubin, a yellowish pigment, in the bloodstream. It can cause the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. Jaundice is often caused by liver disease, but it can also be caused by certain medications, infections, and other causes. Jaundice is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition. Also, jaundice treatment can be easy if done in the early stages.

Causes of Jaundice

Causes of jaundice (also called icterus) are the things that cause the yellowish color of the skin and the tissues of the body. The most common causes of jaundice are infection in the bile ducts (cholecystitis or biliary tract infection) and certain liver diseases (hepatitis, cirrhosis, and other forms of liver damage). Other causes of jaundice include gallstones, biliary tract cancer, certain drugs, and certain foods.

Symptoms of Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition in which the skin, eyes, and/or the whites of the eyes become yellow due to increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is most commonly caused by liver problems, but can also be caused by gallstones, pregnancy, drugs, and other conditions. 

Jaundice is diagnosed with a physical exam and/or a blood test. The severity of jaundice, and the organ at which it originates, is often indicative of the underlying cause.

Risk Factors of Jaundice

  • Acute inflammation– When we think of the condition called jaundice, we typically associate it with the yellowish skin coloration that is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream. But jaundiced patients are also often observed to have an inflamed, painful liver. The cause of this inflammation is often acute inflammation, which is the body’s response to tissue injury and the subsequent invasion of foreign material such as invading microorganisms.Acute inflammation is characterized by the rapid influx of white blood cells and the release of chemical mediators called cytokines, which cause inflammation-related symptoms such as pain and redness.
  • Obstruction of bile duct-Jaundice, also known as yellowing of the skin and eyes, is a symptom of various conditions. One of the most common causes of jaundice in adults is an obstruction of the bile duct. This condition, called cholestasis, occurs when a build-up of bile within the liver causes the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine to become blocked. When bile is trapped in the liver, it causes the skin and eyes to become yellow due to an increase in the amount of liver pigment, bilirubin, in the blood.

How to Treat Jaundice?

Jaundice, also known as yellowing of the skin and eyes, is a symptom of various conditions. One of the most common causes of jaundice in adults is an obstruction of the bile duct. Unfortunately,obstructive jaundice treatment is often only treatable through dietary changes or light therapy, which often isn’t enough to reverse the damage already done to the skin and eyes. Fortunately, other treatments can help reduce or eliminate jaundice and its accompanying symptoms, like itching and irritation. Some of these treatments include phototherapy, hematology therapies, and even liver transplantation, in the most extreme cases. Thus, utmost care must be taken while curing for jaundice as it can be fatal sometimes.

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