Understanding Jaundice

By definition, jaundice is a yellowish tinge to the skin and the sclerae, the white area of the eyes. It is caused by the build-up of Bilirubin, a chemical that accumulates in the blood when red blood cells are broken down. In spite of what other people may think, jaundice is not a disease. Rather, it is a sign that may manifest itself in many different diseases. 

Generally, the yellowish tinge in the skin and the sclerae appears when the level of Bilirubin is mildly elevated. On the other hand, a brownish tinge appears in the skin and the sclerae when the level of Bilirubin in the blood is high.

Classification of jaundices

There are many types of jaundices:

Neonatal Jaundice – a type of jaundice which often affects newborn babies during the first few weeks of their life.

Haemolytic Jaundice – a type of jaundice that occurs when red blood cells are destroyed.

Hepatocellular Jaundice – a type of jaundice that occurs when the hepatocellular cells of the liver are damaged.

Obstructive Jaundice – a type of jaundice that is brought about by the obstruction of the bile ducts.

Causes and Symptoms

Too much Bilirubin in the blood leads to jaundice. But aside from people who have high levels of Biliburin in their blood, individuals who have Gilbert’s Syndrome, Rotor’s Syndrome, Dubin-Johnson Syndrome, or Crigler-Najjar Syndrome are also highly susceptible to jaundice.

The telltale signs of jaundice can be commonly determined through the yellowish or brownish tinge in the skin and the sclerae. However, other symptoms of this disease are also characterized by tiredness, abdominal pain, weight loss, vomiting, and fever.

How to treat jaundice?

By establishing the fact that jaundice is not an illness in itself but a sign of a myriad of diseases, it is thus acknowledged that the appropriate treatment for jaundice ultimately depends on what is causing it.

Oral medications are an option for jaundice caused by anemia and hepatitis, surgery is an option for gallstone obstruction, and a liver transplant is an option for jaundice that is caused by an irreversible liver damage.

How to prevent jaundice?

Jaundice can be prevented if you keep your liver healthy. Preventive measures to avoid jaundice would include a healthy lifestyle. This includes no smoking and drinking, cutting down on caffeine, and drinking lots of water everyday.