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Jaundice Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Jaundice is basically, a symptom of a disease. The main symptoms of jaundice are yellowish staining on the skin and eyes. The yellow color is caused due to the increase of bilirubin level in the body. Bilirubin is formed from the red blood cells and it is yellow in color but if the level of bilirubin is very high, the patient appears brown. There are also conditions such as whitening of eyes, which are erratically linked to jaundice. Jaundice can be seen in patients suffering from intestinal disorder, in women after delivery and in new born babies.

About one percent of the red blood cells are replaced every day by fresh blood cells and excess of bilirubin goes into the stool. If the number of red blood cells dying every day increases, the yellow color spreads to the body causing jaundice. Bilirubin comes from the destruction of red blood cells and the causes for increase in production of bilirubin are:

1. If there is any disruption in the functioning of liver.

2. If the number of red blood cells reduces.

3. If the liver is damaged to be unable to process bilirubin.

4. If bile duct is blocked.

Types of Jaundice

1. The increase in the breakdown of red blood cell may increase in case of malaria, spherocytosis, sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia or by some auto-immune disorders. The situation is called pre-hepatic jaundice, in which, the yellow color bilirubin increases in the blood before the production of bile.

2. In the hepatic condition, the patient suffers from inability to digest bilirubin such as in Gilbert's syndrome, cancer, cirrhosis etc.

3. There is also a kind of post hepatic condition, in which, the jaundice is called obstructive jaundice and it is caused because of the interruption of bile flow from the liver to intestine. It is found in case, when the patient has gallstones, cancer, strictures cholangitis or pregnancy.

4. A kind of psychological jaundice is found in mostly new born babies.

Causes and Symptoms

1. Birth disorder
2. Malaria
3. Haemolytic anaemia
4. Viral hepatitis
5. Alcoholic liver damage
6. Autoimmune disorders
7. Pancreas cancer or tumor in bile


1. Jaundice is diagnosed through symptoms, blood tests, and liver tests, test of cholesterol, blood count, liver biopsy, urine test, stool test and ultrasound of abdomen.

2. CT scan can be done to detect irregularities in the functioning of the abdomen.

3. HIDA scan and magnetic resonance imagining or MRI is done to examine the abdomen and bile duct.

4. Liver biopsy

Treatment and Prevention

1. Many new born babies suffer from jaundice, because they are not fed properly in the first few weeks of birth. The babies should not be allowed to dehydrate.

2. Treatment includes giving fluids and blood transfusion to the patient. Antibiotics and medicines are given. The reason for jaundice is found and if certain drug or medicines is causing jaundice, it should be discontinued.

3. Newborn are exposed to phototherapy or given blood transfusion, to reduce the release of enzyme bilirubin.

4. In cases, where another disease such as cancer or tumor is causing jaundice, surgery may be required.

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