What Is Jaundice?

Jaundice is a yellow mark of the skin, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eyes happened by enhancing the amounts of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is a signal of an underlying disease process.

  • Bilirubin is a by-product of the regular natural breakdown and blowing up of red blood cells in the body.
  • The hemoglobin molecule that is removed into the blood by this operation is cleaved, with the heme part undergoing a chemical conversion to bilirubin.
  • Generally, the liver metabolizes and expel the bilirubin in the form of bile.
  • However, if there is a disturbance in this normal metabolism and/or production of bilirubin, jaundice may outcome.

What Causes Jaundice?

Jaundice may be caused by some dissimilar disease operations. It is helpful to understand the dissimilar causes of jaundice by identifying the problems that disrupt the normal bilirubin metabolism and/or excretion.

Pre-hepatic (before bile is made in the liver)

Jaundice in these occurrences is caused by rapid enhance in the breakdown and destruction of the red blood cells (hemolysis), overwhelming the liver’s ability to fairly remove the enhanced levels of bilirubin from the blood.

Examples of situations with an enhanced breakdown of red blood cells include:

  • malaria,
  • sickle cell crisis,
  • spherocytosis,
  • thalassemia,
  • glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD),
  • drugs or other toxins, and
  • Autoimmune disorders.

Hepatic (the problem arises within the liver)

Jaundice in these instances is caused by the liver’s inability to correctly metabolize and excrete bilirubin. Examples include:

  • hepatitis (commonly viral or alcohol-related),
  • cirrhosis,
  • drugs or other toxins,
  • Crigler-Najjar syndrome,
  • Gilbert’s syndrome, and
  • Cancer.

Post-hepatic (after bile has been made in the liver)

Jaundice in these instances, also termed obstructive jaundice, is caused by situations which interlude the normal drainage of conjugated bilirubin in the form of bile from the liver into the intestines.

Causes of contrary jaundice include:

  • Gallstones in the bile ducts,
  • Cancer (pancreatic and gallbladder/bile duct carcinoma),
  • Strictures of the bile ducts,
  • Cholangitis,
  • Congenital malformations,
  • Pancreatitis,
  • Parasites,
  • Pregnancy, and
  • Newborn jaundice.


Jaundice in newborn babies can be caused by hard different situations, although it is often a standard physiological result of the newborn’s immature liver. Even though it is generally harmless under these circumstances, newborns with extra elevated levels of bilirubin from other medical situations (pathologic jaundice) may face devastating brain harm (kernicterus) if the underlying issue is not addressed. Newborn jaundice is the most usual situation needing medical evaluation in newborns.

The following are some main causes of newborn jaundice:

Physiological jaundice

This form of jaundice is generally evident on the second or third day of life. It is the most main cause of newborn jaundice and is usually a transient and harmless condition. Jaundice is caused by the incapacity of the newborn’s unripe liver to operation bilirubin from the accelerated breakdown of red blood cells that happens at this age. As the newborn’s liver matures, jaundice finally disappears.

Maternal-fetal blood group incompatibility (Rh, ABO)

This form of jaundice happens when there is an incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and the fetus. This guides enhanced bilirubin levels from the breakdown of the fetus’ red blood cells (hemolysis).

Breast milk jaundice

This form of jaundice happens in breastfed newborns and generally seems at the end of the first week of life. Definite chemicals in breast milk are thought to be answerable. It is generally a harmless situation that settles impulsively. Mothers typically do not have to stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding jaundice

This form of jaundice happens when the breastfed newborn does not receive adequate breast milk fusion. This may happen because of delayed or inadequate milk production by the mother or because of poor feeding by the newborn. This insufficient intake results in dehydration and fewer bowel movements for the newborn, with subsequently reduced bilirubin excretion from the body system.

Cephalohematoma (a collection of blood under the scalp)

Sometimes during the birthing operation, the newborn may help a wound or wound to the head, out coming in a blood collection/blood clot under the scalp. As this blood is naturally broken down, immediately elevated levels of bilirubin may overwhelm the processing capability of the newborn’s immature liver, resulting in jaundice.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Jaundice?

Jaundice is a signal of an underlying disease process.

Common signals and symptoms are seen in individuals with jaundice involve:

  • yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eyes,
  • Light-colored stools,
  • Dark-colored urine, and
  • Itching of the skin.


The underlying disease operation may result in additional signals and symptoms. These may involve:

  • Nausea and Vomiting,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Fever,
  • Weakness,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Headache,
  • Confusion,
  • Swelling of the legs and abdomen, and
  • Newborn jaundice.


In newborns, as the bilirubin level-ups, jaundice will typically operate from the head to the trunk, and then to the hands and feet. Additional signals and symptoms that may be seen in the newborn involve:

  • poor feeding,
  • lethargy,
  • changes in muscle tone,
  • high-pitched crying, and
  • Seizures.

When to Seek Medical Care for Jaundice

  • Call a health care practitioner if you or your baby grows jaundice. Jaundice may be a signal of a major underlying medical situation.
  • If you are inadequate to reach and be seen by your health care practitioner in a timely manner, go to the emergency division for further evaluation.

Questions to Ask the Doctor About Jaundice

  1. What is the cause of my jaundice? How can I learn more about it?
  2. Will I require any blood tests or imaging studies?
  3. What is the likely course of this illness? What is the long-term outlook?
  4. What are my treatment options? Will I require surgery or medications? Are there any medications I should avoid?
  5. If my symptoms worsen while at home, what should I do? When do I need to call you? When do I need to go to the emergency department?

Exams and Tests for Jaundice

The health care practicing will need to take a detailed history of the patient’s illness, and he or she will also be inspected to see if there are any findings that specify the cause of the patient’s jaundice. However, additional testing is usually needed to clearly decide the underlying cause of jaundice. The following tests and imaging studies may be acquired:

Blood tests

These may originally involve a complete blood count (CBC), liver function tests (including a bilirubin level), lipase/amylase level to notice inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), and an electrolytes panel. In women, a pregnancy test may be acquired. Extra blood tests may be needed depending upon the initial results and the history offered to the practitioner.


Urinalysis is an examination of the urine and is a very functional test in the diagnosis of screening many diseases.

Imaging Studies

  • Ultrasound: This is secure, painless imaging examine that uses sound waves to study the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. It is very useful for detecting gallstones and dilated bile ducts. It can also inspect abnormalities of the liver and the pancreas.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: ACT scan is imaging examine same to an X-ray that offers more details of all the abdominal organs. Though not as superior as ultrasound at detecting gallstones, it can identify different other abnormalities of the liver, pancreas, and other abdominal organs as well.
  • Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan): A HIDA scan is imaging examine that uses radioactive material to assess the gallbladder and the bile ducts.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI is an imaging exam that uses a magnetic field to examine the organs of the abdomen. It can be functional for complete imaging of the bile ducts.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): ERCP is a procedure that includes the introduction of an endoscope (a tube with a camera at the end) pass the mouth and into the small intestine. A dye is then introduced into the bile ducts while X-rays are taken. It can be helpful for identifying stones, tumors, or narrowing of the bile ducts.
  • In this system, a needle is inserted into the liver after a local anesthetic has been controlled. Often ultrasound will be used to lead placement of the needle. The small sample of liver tissue which is get is sent to a laboratory for examination by a pathologist (a physician who expert in the diagnosis of tissue samples). Among other things, a liver biopsy can be helpful for diagnosing inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis, and cancer.

What Are Jaundice Treatments?

Treatment based on the cause of the underlying situation leading to jaundice and any likely complications related to it. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can then be managed to address that particular situation, and it may or may not need hospitalization.

  • Treatment may be composed of expectant management (watchful waiting) at home with rest.
  • Medical treatment with intravenous fluids, medications, antibiotics, or blood transfusions may be needed.
  • If a drug/toxin is the cause, these must be stopped.
  • In the specific instance of newborn jaundice, exposing the baby to special colored lights (phototherapy) or exchange blood transfusions may be needed to reduced elevated bilirubin levels.
  • Surgical heal may be needed.

Self-Care at Home for Jaundice

The aim of home therapy involves symptom relief and controlled the medical situation causing underlying jaundice. The different quality that may be undertaken involve:

  • Maintain adequate hydration by drinking fluids, and rest as required.
  • Take medications only as commanded and advised by a health care practitioner.
  • Avoid medicines, herbs, or supplements which may cause detrimental side effects. Ask a health care practitioner for advice.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol until the patient has discussed it with their healthcare pro.
  • Specific dietary restrictions may be recommended by a health care practitioner.
  • In certain cases of newborn jaundice, the parents or caregivers can place the baby next to a well-lit window a few times a day to decrease elevated bilirubin levels. In more severe cases, a health care practitioner may need to discharge the baby home from the hospital with home phototherapy.
  • Provide adequate milk intake for the baby in cases of breastfeeding jaundice.
  • If symptoms worsen or if any new symptoms arise, consult a health care practitioner.

What Are Other Medical Treatments?

Treatment varies build on the medical situation responsible for causing jaundice, and the associated symptoms and complications. Treatments may involve the following:

  • Supportive care,
  • IV fluids in cases of dehydration,
  • Medications for nausea/vomiting and pain,
  • Antibiotics,
  • Antiviral medications,
  • Blood transfusions,
  • Steroids,
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy, and
  • Phototherapy (newborns).

What Are Jaundice Medications

  • Medications may or may not be essential.
  • After diagnosing the source of the patient’s jaundice, the health care practitioner will straight the patient’s treatment and advise medications if they are essential.
  • As outlined above, different medication options exist based on the underlying source of jaundice.

Is Surgery Necessary?

  • The surgical cure may be essential in specific cases of cancer, congenital malformations, situations that stop the bile ducts, gallstones, and abnormalities of the spleen.
  • Sometimes, a liver transplant may be essentials.

Patient Follow-up for Jaundice

  • The patient should hardly follow the health care practitioner’s suggestions and cure regimen.
  • Once the diagnosis has been invented, the health care practitioner will examine whether or not the patient needs an expert (for example, gastroenterologist, hematologist/oncologist, general surgeon, etc.) to address their proper underlying medical situation.
  • Additional blood testing and imaging exams may be needed.

Based on the cause of the patient’s jaundice, he or she may need only a short time follow-up with visits to the health care pro, or the patient may need lifelong close supervision by a physician. The patient should ask the potential complications of the situation with their health care practitioner, and always seek medical awareness if the symptoms recur or worsen.

How to Prevent Jaundice

The underlying medical situation causing jaundice can in some cases be stoped. Some obstructive measures involve the following:

  • Keep away heavy alcohol use (alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and pancreatitis).
  • Vaccines for hepatitis
  • Take away medications which stop malaria before traveling to high-risk regions.
  • Take away high-risk behaviors such as intravenous drug use or unprotected intercourse (hepatitis B).
  • Take away potentially contaminated food/water and manage good hygiene (hepatitis A).
  • Take away medicine that can cause hemolysis in susceptible individuals (such as those with G6PD deficiency, a situation that guides to red blood cell breakdown after consumption of specific substances).
  • Take away medications and toxins which can cause hemolysis or directly make harm the liver.

What Is Jaundice Prognosis?

  • The prognosis based on the underlying source.
  • Some situations are easily controlled and carry an excellent prognosis, while others may become chronic and require lifelong physician supervision.
  • Unfortunately, some situations causing jaundice may be fatal despite medical or surgical intervention.
  • Discuss the prognosis with a health care practitioner once a diagnosis has been invented.
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