Health and MedicineDiseasesJaundice: what it is, causes, symptoms and treatment

Jaundice: what it is, causes, symptoms and treatment

Jaundice is a yellowish coloration of the skin and eyes caused by some diseases. Find out what it is, what causes it and how it is treated.

Jaundice is a symptom that is characterized by giving a yellowish tone to all the skin and the pupil of the eyes. This is caused by bilirubin, a chemical component that is responsible for carrying oxygen to the blood. In fact, jaundice occurs when a condition known as high bilirubin (also known medically as hyperbilirubinemia) occurs.

All this process is causing the red blood cells to take on that characteristic yellow color. And that is when the body is forced to create new cells in order to replace those that are damaged.

All those that end up contaminated by this substance end up directly in the liver and since this organ is not capable of degrading them, it is inevitable that the bilirubin begins to spread throughout the body. It can also directly affect the color of urine or feces, which can take on very dark colors (also known as courier and aphelia, respectively).

It is very normal for newborns to suffer from jaundice during the first months of life.  However, there are many more people who suffer from this condition that can occur at any age for many reasons that we will go through in the following article.

Causes of jaundice

One of the main causes of jaundice is the existence of damage to the liver, mainly due to certain liver diseases that cause problems in this important organ.

A good example is the case of fatty liver, a condition so common today that it affects millions of people around the world.

  • Liver infection undoubtedly one of the most common causes for which jaundice can appear. The carrier suffers from a liver virus that can cause hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
  • Biliary accumulations. Disorders in the gallbladder can also cause jaundice in the patient.
  • Drug overdose. Jaundice can also appear due to a massive intake of medications. The one that most causes this condition is paracetamol.
  • Pancreatic cancer. Due to cancer, the organ pancreas is not able to function properly, something that later translates into a multitude of jaundice.
  • Congenital disorders. It is also quite possible that the person suffering from jaundice may not be able to break down bilirubin naturally. This is something known as Gilbert’s or Dubbin-Johnson Syndrome.

What treatment is there for jaundice?

It should be noted that there is no direct treatment for jaundice since it is a symptom and not a disease. Given this, the best thing to do is directly attack the causes of it. For example, if jaundice is caused by the massive intake of any alcoholic beverage or a series of drugs, then obviously there will be no choice but to drastically reduce the consumption of these two substances.

If jaundice appears due to a malfunction of the liver that is causing all kinds of stones to appear on the walls of this organ, then here there will be no choice but to go to our doctor.  In most cases, an endoscopy will have to be carried out so that all the gallstones can flow normally.

If jaundice has appeared in the baby just a few weeks after birth, there is no need to worry too much because it is very common. Although a series of indications must be taken into account. First of all, the level of bilirubin in the blood must be checked. If for any reason it is higher than 20mg/dl, it will be necessary to give it a specific treatment that can only be given by a doctor in order to lower this substance in the blood. During treatment, it is very important to keep the child hydrated as this will help reduce symptoms considerably.

Jaundice can also occur when both the baby and its mother have a different blood type. By breastfeeding, the woman begins to create antibodies that will “attack” the baby’s red blood cells. And when destroying them, because the little one secretes bilirubin as a defense mechanism. In this situation, the child should stop consuming breast milk and replace it with another recommended by the pediatrician.


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