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Jaundice – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Jaundice – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Monsoon has arrived. These rainy seasons are the hub for many viral and water-borne diseases. Jaundice is one among them, commonly caused due to a virus called hepatitis virus. You need to be more careful because it can also occur due to various other conditions.

“Jaundice” – also known as Icterus – A medical term used to describe the condition of the skin and eyes becoming yellow. In fact, Jaundice is also a sign of several underlying illnesses.

    • The skin and eyes of a jaundice patient turn yellow. The body fluids might also turn into yellowish colour.
    • Jaundice is formed when there is excess bilirubin in the blood. Bile or bilirubin is a digestive juice produced by the liver.
    • Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment formed naturally by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver.
    • This natural process is called as metabolization and excretes the bilirubin in the form of bile juice or bile. If this normal metabolism process disturbed it may result in jaundice.

What Are The Causes Of Jaundice?

Jaundice can occur to all ages of people because it is a result of various underlying conditions. Generally, It is an indication of a problem with the liver or bile duct.

Here are the possible causes of Jaundice.

Hemolytic jaundice: It occurs when the breakdown of red blood cells is more and the breakdown process is called haemolysis. Usually, there will be a perfect balance in the breakdown of existing red blood cells to the production of new red blood cells.

However, if the breakdown of cells is more than the production, then the liver can’t eliminate the excess amount of bilirubin. As we know bile is a result of breakdown dead red blood cells.

Malaria is a classic example of this condition, here the parasites will live in red blood cells and kill them. In such conditions new red blood cells can’t be formed immediately and take time to replace the old ones. So, people affected by malaria have a great risk of getting jaundice.

Hepatocellular jaundice: This type of jaundice occurs when the liver gets damaged or infected. For example Hepatitis(Hepatitis A, B, C), it is an inflammatory disease of the liver which is caused by viral infections, autoimmune disease, excessive blood loss, medications, drugs and drinking alcohol.

Obstructive jaundice: It might be a result of an obstruction in the bile duct that preventing bilirubin to come out of the liver. The bile duct is designed with a system of tubes that carry bile juice from the liver to the gallbladder and the small intestine. However, if the process is disturbed by any means i.e due cysts, gallstones in the ducts, previous surgeries or infection or due to swollen lymph glands, etc.

Jaundice in Newborn: Jaundice in infant babies is a common condition, especially in premature babies. It results due to the presence of high levels of bilirubin in the blood soon after the birth of a baby.

Jaundice due to Breast Milk: This is a type of jaundice associated with breastfeeding and typically occurs after a week after birth. It may cause due to inadequate intake of milk.

Some other conditions which can lead to jaundice are Sickle cell anaemia, Liver cancer, Pancreatic cancer, cirrhosis, Thalassemia, yellow fever, Weil’s disease, etc.

What Are The Symptoms Of Jaundice?

The classic symptoms in a person with jaundice will exhibit yellow skin of varying degrees and mucous membranes and the white of the eyes may also turn into yellow colour. Yet, based on the underlying cause of jaundice, people may experience varying symptoms. Some may have very few symptoms, some may have no signs at all, while some others might encounter severe and pronounced symptoms. The signs and symptoms may include:

    • Pale-coloured stools
    • Dark-coloured urine
    • Itchy Skin
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    • High Fever and chills
    • Weakness
    • Loss of appetite & Weight loss
    • Abdominal pain mostly near the liver
    • Headache
    • Swelling legs
    • Swelling and distension of the abdomen due to the accumulation of fluid

Some people misguide themselves when they notice yellow skin. Usually, people who suffer from jaundice have both yellow-coloured skin and yellow-coloured eyes. To confirm exactly you should consult a doctor immediately.

What Is The Treatment For Jaundice?

As we discussed above jaundice itself is not a disease, it’s a result of several possible underlying diseases. The type of treatment for jaundice depends on its underlying cause. Your doctor will treat the cause of jaundice, not only the symptom. For example:

    • Hepatocellular jaundice is caused due to viral infections, so it’s treated with antiviral medications and steroids
    • Hemolytic jaundice is treated by providing iron supplements
    • Obstructive Jaundice is treated with surgery and removes the obstruction, follows medication
    • In some cases, jaundice occurs as a result of side effect due to consuming certain medicines. In such cases, the medicines are discontinued and some other alternative medicines are provided.

In case of infants or preterm babies the jaundice treatments include:

    • Phototherapy
    • Blood transfusion

Severe jaundice cases are treated with blood transfusions to remove excess bilirubin. Nearly 60% of the newborn babies are suffering from jaundice within a week of their birth. Among them, 80% of them are premature babies.

How To Prevent Jaundice?

    • Increase fluid intake, drink min eight glasses of pure water per day
    • Consider adding milk thistle(herbal remedy for liver problems) to your daily routine
    • Minimize eating fruits like papaya and mango
    • Eat more veggies and fruits daily
    • Eat high-fibre foods like oatmeal, berries, and almonds etc.

Following the above tips can help you to avoid the occurrence of jaundice. For more information or if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above or if you are a victim of jaundice, contact our doctors quickly. If you ignore, your life might be in danger.

About the Doctor:

Dr. Nagarjuna Yarlagadda – Gastroenterologist

Dr. Nagarjuna Yarlagadda is a reputed Gastroenterologist at Sunshine Hospitals, Gachibowli. After getting his MBBS degree from Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada, he earned his MD from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Chandigarh Dr Nagarjuna has 25 years of experience. He served as Additional Professor of Gastroenterology at  NIMS (Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences) and was a consultant gastroenterologist at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) for 14 years and has rich teaching experience as well. He also serves as a member of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology, INASL and SGI. He has published papers and trials in national and international journals.

About Sunshine Hospitals:

A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.

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