Categories: disorders

Jaundice: Causes, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment


Jaundice is described as a yellowish tinge to the skin and the whites of the eye. The body fluids may also be yellow. The color of the human skin and whites of the eyes will differ depending on the level of bilirubin in man. Bilirubin is a waste material present in the blood. The moderate level of the bilirubin leads to the yellow color of the skin while very high levels in the blood will seem brown. Around sixty percent of all infants that are born in the United States have jaundice. On the other hand, this can occur to the general public of all ages and is usually the consequence of a fundamental condition. This disease usually indicates a problem with the liver or bile duct.

Signs and symptoms

On the other hand, depending on the core cause of jaundice, people may experience diverse signs and symptoms. Some persons may have very rare while other people may experience more severe and distinct symptoms. The individuals with this disease may experience any of the following signs and symptoms.

  1. Pale colored stools
  2. Dark-colored urine
  3. Skin itching
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Rectal bleeding
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Fever and chills
  8. Weakness
  9. Weight loss
  10. Loss of appetite
  11. Confusion
  12. Abdominal pain
  13. Headache
  14. Swelling of the legs
  15. Swelling and distension of the abdomen due to the gathering of fluid termed as ascites.

Etiology of jaundice

Excess bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) is the leading cause of jaundice. It is a yellowing of the human skin and the whiting of the eyes that occurs due to a problem in the liver. The bilirubin is a yellow-colored left-over material that remains in the bloodstream after the removal of the iron from the human blood. The liver cleans the waste material from the blood. When the bilirubin spreads the liver, other chemicals attach to it. A substance called conjugated bilirubin results. The liver produces bile, a digestive juice. The conjugated bilirubin goes into the bile and then it leaves the human body. If there is too much bilirubin, it can leak into the surrounding tissues. This is known as hyperbilirubinemia, and it causes the yellow color in the skin and eyes.

Other causes

Diseases or conditions that can cause jaundice to include

  • Internal bleeding termed as hemorrhage.
  • An infection in the blood of the baby.
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Incompatibility between the blood of the mother and the baby.
  • A liver malfunction.
  • Deficiency of enzyme.
  • The abnormality of red blood cells that causes them to break down quickly.

Risk factors

Following are the risk factors

  • Breastfeeding
  • Premature birth
  • Blood type
  • Significant bruising during birth
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Inflammation of the bile duct
  • Obstruction of the bile duct
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Cholestasis
  • Gilberts syndrome

Following are the rare situations in which jaundice happens

  • Crigler-Najjar syndrome
  • Dubin-Johnson syndrome


High levels of bilirubin that causes severe jaundice can end result in severe problems if not treated well.

  • Acute bilirubin encephalopathy
  • kernicterus

Tests and procedures for jaundice (Diagnosis)

Jaundice requires a complete medical assessment to control the cause. Primarily, the healthcare expert will take a thorough history of your ailment and achieve a physical examination, that can occasionally conclude the cause of jaundice. Initially, blood testing will also be carried out. Following are the tests:

  • Liver blood tests (LFT’s)
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Electrolyte level
  • Lipase levels

The blood test for exposure to hepatitis may also be conducted. Further blood testing may conduct based on the initial results of the patient. The analysis of urine may also conduct. Depending on the consequences of early blood tests, additional readings may be obligatory to help identify the core disease process. In certain cases, imaging studies will need to be obtained in order to estimate for any deviations of the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. This imaging may comprise:

  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • Computerized tomography scan (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan)

Infrequently, the people will require additional invasive testing to conclude the cause of jaundice. The procedures that might be well-ordered include endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or a liver biopsy.


The treatment will depend on the underlying cause. The treatment of this disease targets the cause rather than the jaundice symptoms. The following are the treatments that are used.

  • Anemia-induced jaundice

In this case, this may be treated by increasing the quantity of iron in the blood by either taking iron supplements or consuming more iron-containing foods.

  • Hepatitis-induced jaundice

This requires antiviral and steroid medicines.

  • Obstruction-induced jaundice

This can be treated by surgically removing the obstruction.


  1. The maintaining of the liver function by eating a balanced diet, exercise regularly.
  2. Avoid alcohol intake.

Jaundice in newborns

As the bilirubin level increases, jaundice in newborns will naturally progress and then spread to the hands and feet. The added signs and symptoms that may be visible in the neonatal include

  1. poor feeding
  2. lethargy
  3. changes in muscle tone
  4. high-pitched crying
  5. presence of seizures

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