What is Jaundice?

The condition of Jaundice is characterized by the presence of yellow tint in the eyes and the skin. This yellowness is due to the presence of excess bilirubin in the body. The by-product obtained due to the breakdown of red blood cells is called bilirubin which is normally flushed out by the liver. But sometimes excess bilirubin may latch on to bile juices of the liver and spread in the body and this gives the body a yellow colour. This condition is known as Jaundice.

What causes Jaundice?

Jaundice may be caused as a result of a disorder due to over saturation of bilirubin in the tissues or because the bilirubin is not being disposed off by the liver (Obstructive Jaundice). Some other causes maybe:

  • Passed by expectant mother to unborn child
  • Any injury to the liver which may impair its function (Hepatocellular Jaundice)
  • Excessive breakdown of red blood cells (erythrocytes) (Hemolytic Jaundice)

Any obstruction in the bile duct which carries bile juice from the liver to the intestine, and gall bladder, thus leading to the storage of excess bilirubin in the liver.
In other words, any condition which prevents the passage of bilirubin out of the body thus leading to its excess build-up may cause Jaundice.

What are the symptoms of Jaundice?

Yellowness of the white of the eyes and the skin is a visible sign. Fatigue and Weight loss, dark Urine, fever and vomiting, abdominal pain and pale stools are the other symptoms of Jaundice.

How is Jaundice diagnosed?

The presence of the above signs and symptoms may help the doctor in diagnosing the condition of Jaundice.

In addition, a liver function test may be suggested and also Tests for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Sometimes to arrive at a correct diagnosis and to rule out other underlying conditions, a full blood count [FBC] or complete blood count [CBC] may be advised.

To check for more accuracy and other complications, imaging tests like MRI, CT Scans and Endoscopy may be prescribed.

Can Jaundice be cured?

The cure and treatment depends upon the condition which is causing it. The symptoms of Jaundice can be treated very well by medication.

The virus of Hepatitis A is believed to cause the symptoms of Jaundice. Other serious conditions like HIV may also produce the symptoms of Jaundice. Hence curing of Jaundice depends upon the underlying condition and its severity.

Can Jaundice be prevented?

In some of the cases Jaundice cannot be prevented when it is passed on from expectant mother to the unborn child and in the case of HIV.

Some causes include excess alcohol consumption and it is believed that reduced or no intake may help prevent the incidence of Jaundice.

A healthy and simple lifestyle may help prevent the spread the infection of Jaundice. The condition of Jaundice is not infectious or contagious, but the underlying factor say Hepatitis A, may be infectious, as Hepatitis A spreads by contaminated water and food. Maintaining good hygiene also helps.

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