Jaundice is not a disease. It is the clinical manifestation of a disease. Earlier, it was known as "icterus". The term comes from the French word “jaune”, meaning yellow. Jaundice is used to describe the yellowish pigmentation of the skin, mucous membranes, the conjunctival membranes, and the sclera (white portion of eyes). It occurs due to the presence of excess bilirubin. Medically, it is termed as hyperbilirubinemia. Many times, urine appears yellow. A normal person has bilirubin level up to 0.5 mg/dL. The concentration of bilirubin exceeds 1.5 mg/dL in jaundice-affected person.
Bilirubin is a byproduct. It is produced from hemoglobin catabolism. It is orangish-yellow pigment formed in the liver cells. It is synthesized when the hepatic cells decomposes old RBCs. Bilirubin is eliminated from the body through the fecal matter. It is responsible for brownish hue of stool. When the bilirubin level is high, it starts leaking in the surrounding tissues and makes it appear yellow.
There are several causes for the occurrence of jaundice. They are:
Mainly, there are three types:
Common side-effects include:
Different diagnostic methods are adapted to identify the underlying cause.
If jaundice symptoms are mild, proper treatment usually causes them to recede by the seventh day. In many cases, phototherapy is used as treatment. The treatment also depends upon the reason for the occurrence of jaundice. If the cause is bile duct blockage, surgery may be recommended. Similarly if the liver has any disorder, the treatment is aimed at correcting this defect. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed in treating jaundice. In moderate cases, jaundice gets automatically resolved if strict dietary measures are followed. In extreme cases, blood transfusions may be required.
Strict dietary restriction is a must for rapid recovery. Strictly avoid eating saturated fats. All the food should be processed to minimize digestion problems. Nonvegetarian food should mostly be avoided until healed from jaundice. Even after recovering completely, it is better to stick with vegetarian foods for a while and if you have to eat non vegetarian, try boiled or chicken broth in small quantities. Milk products should be avoided. Fried foods and very minimal oil should be used. Since the fats are broken down by the liver and it is affected, fats and rich foods should be totally avoided to help heal faster and better. Proteins are required for strength, so tofu and easily digestible protein in small amounts can be taken. The patient must have a diet rich in green veggies and fruits. However, one must strictly avoid alcohol and drugs. Patients must drink 12 eight-ounce glasses of water everyday.