Jaundice is a condition in which skin tone and whites of eyes get yellow. Jaundice is called Yarkan (یرقان) in Urdu. It is also termed as icterus. In this condition, body fluids may also turn abnormally yellow. This yellow discoloration is basically due to the accumulation of bilirubin which is a product of RBC breakdown. Jaundice in babies is a common finding. A huge percentage of newborns get jaundice in the initial few weeks of their life however jaundice in adults is also very common. Jaundice in adults can be due to other medical conditions and issues about liver and bile duct.
There are three different types of jaundice as mentioned below:
Hepatocellular jaundice occurs as a result of injury or due to liver disease.
Hemolytic jaundice results from the abnormal and increased breakdown of erythrocytes which causes an increase in the production of bilirubin
Obstructive jaundice is due to an obstruction in the excretion of bile from the liver which leads to the accumulation of bilirubin in the liver.
Risk Factors for Jaundice
Jaundice most commonly results from a defect in the processing of bilirubin by the liver or due to the overproduction of bilirubin. Underlying ailments that can result in jaundice are:
- Acute inflammation of the liver
- Inflammation of bile duct
- Obstruction of bile duct
- Hemolytic anemia
- Gilbert’s syndrome
Rarely jaundice can be due to:
- Crigler-Najar Syndrome
- Dubin-Johnson Syndrome
Symptoms of jaundice include:
Yellowing of skin and eye whites. This yellowness usually starts from the head and moves down the body.
- Pale stools
- The dark color of urine
- Swelling of legs and abdomen
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms of jaundice in newborns
Besides other symptoms in newborns following symptoms are seen:
- Poor feed intake
- Crying loudly
- Changes in muscle tone
The primary cause of jaundice is an accumulation of too much bilirubin and impaired excretion o this by-product from the body. Some diseases and disorders can result in jaundice including liver function abnormalities. Hepatitis, gall stones, and tumors are a few to mention. Jaundice can be caused by any disturbance in one of the three phases of bilirubin production.
Before production of Bilirubin:
This type of jaundice is called unconjugated jaundice and can be an outcome of :
- Reabsorption of subcutaneously clotted blood.
- Hemolytic anemia where blood cells are destroyed before completion of their life span.
During Production Of Bilirubin:
Reasons for this are:
- Hepatitis A, B, and C
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Autoimmune disorders
Rare genetic metabolic factors
Certain medicines like acetaminophen, penicillin, oral contraceptives, and anabolic steroids.
After Biirubin Production
This type of jaundice appears due to some obstruction in the bile duct.
- Gall stones
- Inflammation affecting gall bladder
- Cancer of gall bladder
- Tumor in pancreas
The treatment plan of jaundice is decided as per the underlying cause and not symptoms.
Anemia-Induced jaundice is treated by an increasing amount of iron in the body either by iron supplements or by intake of iron-rich diet.
Jaundice due to hepatitis needs antiviral and steroid medication course to eradicate the root cause.
Obstruction-induced jaundice is treated by surgically removing the obstruction.
If jaundice is due to the usage of certain medicines, the patient is usually shifted to alternative medicines or if the possible medication can be stopped.
In newborns, mild jaundice is managed by improving feeding and exposure to sunlight. This is usually recommended as the treatment of jaundice at home. Serious cases may need hospitalization and exposure to a special kind of light that aids in the breakdown of bilirubin.
How to prevent jaundice
Jaundice is a result of the liver disorder so the main precaution anyone can adopt is to maintain a healthy liver by consuming a chemical-free diet, organic foods, clean water, exercising routinely, and limiting the use of alcohol.
Although severe jaundice needs proper medication and hospitalization in some cases certain natural remedies can be used when managing milder forms of jaundice at homes. These are believed to aid liver function and help in the removal of toxins. Ingredients listed below are used in home remedies for jaundice:
- Papaya leaves
- Sugarcane juice
- Juice of green grapes
- Goat’s milk
Complications of Jaundice
It is commonly asked the question, what happens if jaundice is left untreated? Or what re the complications of jaundice. It is important to know that complications of jaundice depend upon the medical condition of the patient, cause of disease, type, and severity of jaundice. Some possible complications of jaundice are:
- Abdominal swelling
- Liver failure
- Swelling in legs
- Stomach pain
Complications in Infants
In the case of infants complications that can surface are:
- High pitched crying
- Difficulty being alert
- Hearing loss
- Improper development of tooth enamel
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