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Jaundice Information, Facts

Jaundice is the most common of all liver disorders. It is a condition in which yellow discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes occurs due to an increase in the bile, pigment bilirubin, in the blood.

The bile, produced by the liver, is a vital digestive fluid, which is essential for proper nutrition. It exercises a most favorable influence on the general processes of digestion. It also prevents decaying changes in food.

If the bile is prevented from entering the intestines there is an increase in gases and other products. Normally, the production of bile and its flow is constant.

Forms of Jaundice

There are three forms of jaundice. These are: haemolyptic jaundice due to excessive destruction of red blood cells resulting in increased bilirubin formation and anaemia; obstructive jaundice which occurs when there is a block to the pathway between the site of conjugation of bilirubin in the liver cells and the entry of bile into the duodenum; and hepatocellular jaundice resulting from damage to liver cells either by viral infection or by toxic drugs. All the three forms are marked by yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes. See also jaundice diet

Symptoms of Jaundice

The symptoms of jaundice are extreme weakness, headache, fever, loss of appetite, undue fatigue, severe constipation, nausea and yellow coloration of the eyes, tongue, skin and urine. The patient may also feel a dull the liver region. Obstructive jaundice may cause intense itching.

Jaundice is indicative of the malfunctioning of the liver. It may be caused by an obstruction of the bile ducts which discharge bile salts and pigment into the intestines. The bile then gets mixed with blood and this uivtls a yellow pigmentation to the skin. The obstruction of the bile ducts could be due to gall-stones or 'inflamma¬tion , of the liver, known as hepatitis, caused by a virus. In lilt' latter case, the virus spreads and may lead to ‘epidemics' owing to overcrowding, dirty surroundings, insanitary conditions and contamination of food and water. Other causes of jaundice are pernicious anaemia and certain diseases affecting the liver such as typhoid, malaria, yellow fever and tuberculosis.

Jaundice Treatment

Jaundice treatment will depend on the reason for this condition. Jaundice could be because of three causes which are hemolytic, hepatocellular and obstructive.  Cancer or gall stones are the cause of obstructive jaundice which prevents the bile from reaching the small intestines. Hepatocellular jaundice is caused when the cells in the liver are damaged or if there is a disease in the liver which prevents the bilirubin from being processed and accumulates in the blood stream instead.

Causes of Jaundice

Causes of jaundice are many and some of them could be serious like hepatitis which is of the A, E, B, D and C type. Some of the hepatitis types are infectious whereas others are due to excess of alcohol consumption or other toxins in the body. Blockage of the bile ducts can be the cause of excess of bilirubin in the blood stream; hemolytic anemia in which the red blood cells are destroyed and bilirubin increases is caused by malaria or other infections and jaundice in new borns when their system is not fully developed at the time of birth.

Jaundice in Adults

Jaundice in adults is caused by some other disease which could be serious. A person suffering with jaundice will suffer from lack of appetite, nausea and fatigue and also skin rashes and pain in the joints. As jaundice is most often associated with the liver there may be pain in the region of the liver and also abdominal pain which will be accompanied by other symptoms like yellowing of the skin and the eyes.

Yellow Jaundice

Yellow jaundice or the yellowish tinge which appears on the skin and the white of the eyes is caused by the excess of billirubin in the blood stream. This is often the first sign of jaundice though other symptoms may appear a lot earlier in the person. However, a person whose skin turns yellow is not always suffering with jaundice but could also have a condition called pseudo-jaundice. This happens when the person consumes large quantities of fruits and vegetables which contain beta-carotene. This condition is a temporary one and will disappear once the person discontinues the practice of over indulging in these foods.
Submitted on January 16, 2014