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What are the Symptoms of Jaundice?

What are the Symptoms of Jaundice?

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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.



What is Bilirubin?

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.



What are the Causes of Jaundice?

There are several causes for the occurrence of jaundice. They are:

  • Presence of excess bilirubin in the bloodstream.
  • Liver disorder or defect which results in excess bilirubin discharge in the bloodstream.
  • When the bile ducts become blocked, regular flow of bilirubin from the liver towards the intestine slows down. The blockage can occur due to gallstones, pancreatic cancer, and inflammation of bile ducts. It is known as cholestasis.
  • Chronic hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, and autoimmune hepatitis can cause jaundice.
  • Infiltrative diseases of the liver such as hemochromatosis, alpha-one antitrypsin deficiency, and wilson's disease can also cause jaundice.



What are the Different Types of Jaundice?

Mainly, there are three types:

  • Hepatocellular Jaundice: This type of jaundice occurs due to liver injury or liver disorder.
  • Hemolytic Jaundice: It occurs due to hemolysis. In this condition, erythrocytes or red blood cells are broken down very rapidly and increases bilirubin level
  • Obstructive Jaundice: This type of jaundice is caused whenever the bile duct is blocked or obstructed.
  • Juvenile or Infant Jaundice: It occurs only in newly born infants.



What are the Symptoms of Jaundice?

Common side-effects include:

  • Abdominal distension
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal You do not have access to view this node
  • Anorexia
  • Back You do not have access to view this node
  • Bruising
  • Bone and joint You do not have access to view this node
  • High fever or Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Loss of hair
  • Mouth sores
  • Rashes



What are the diagnostic methods to identufy Jaundice? 

Different diagnostic methods are adapted to identify the underlying cause. 

  • Past Lifestyle History: Alcohol or illegal drug abuse may badly affect the liver.
  • Physical Examination: This includes abdomen examination. Presence of tumor suggests the infliction of metastatic cancer leading to jaundice. Firm and enlarged liver indicates cirrhosis. It can cause jaundice.
  • Blood Tests: Bilirubin is determined through blood test. Elevated bilirubin level may cause jaundice.
  • Ultrasound (Sonography): Liver, pancreas, or bile ducts are scanned to determine cancer. Any form of gastrointestinal cancer may cause jaundice. Other diagnostic methods such as MRI and CT scan are also recommended.
  • Liver Biopsy: Patients suffering from swelling on hepatic cells or bile duct are advised to undergo this test.



How is Jaundice Treated?

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.



What are the Dietary Restrictions with Jaundice? 

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.

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