Jaundice- An Overall Aspect

Jaundice can be defined in terms of yellow coloured skin, mucous membranes and whitening of eye due to the elevation of bilirubin level in blood. What is bilirubin? It is nothing but a by-product of the daily process of natural breakdown of RBC (red blood cells) in body. Hemoglobin molecules get released into blood through this process and then the molecules are split and the ‘heme’ part goes through a chemical alteration to bilirubin. In general case the bilirubin is metabolized and excreted from body by liver. But in some cases when the liver fails to work normally and disruptions in normal metabolism process occurs jaundice appear.

Causes of jaundice –

There are several factors that may cause jaundice, such as –

    • The rapid growth in the process of RBC breakdown. This crushes liver’s capacity to remove the excess bilirubin from blood. Following are the factors that increases the RBC breakdown process –
    •  Sickle cell crisis
    •   Malaria
    • Tthalassemia
    •  Autoimmune disorder
    • Spherocytosis
    • G6PD etc.

Sometimes liver fails to properly metabolize and excrete the bilirubin. It happens in the following cases –

  1.  Cirrhosis
  2.   Hepatitis
  3. Crigler-Najjar syndrome
  4. Cancer
  5. Gilbert’s syndrome

Symptoms of jaundice –

Primary symptoms of jaundice are –

  • Yellow discoloration of skin and mucous membrane
  • Whitening of eyes
  • Dark-yellow coloured urination
  • Light coloured stool
  • Itching on skin

In advance stage the following symptoms may occur –

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headache
  • Swelling of abdomen and legs
  • Confusion

Treatment for jaundice

Jaundice treatment can be started as soon as the cause of the jaundice is diagnosed. There are several treatment methods for jaundice, such as –

  • Patients must take a long rest at home
  • Taking medication like antibiotics
  • If any drug or toxin is found to be the cause it must be discontinued immediately
  • If serious surgical treatment may be required.