Jaundice is a disease which causes the skin and the sclerae of the eye to turn yellow. It is caused by hyperbilirubinemia or excess secretion of bilirubin into the blood. The body fluids may also turn yellow. The shade of the skin depends on the bilirubin level. A mild increase in the bilirubin turns the skin pale yellow, and high level makes the skin turn brown.
There are three primary types of jaundice:
- Hepatocellular jaundice: This type of jaundice occurs due to liver disorders.
- Hemolytic jaundice: This type of jaundice occurs due to the breakdown of erythrocytes or red blood cells, and then excess bilirubin is produced.
- Obstructive jaundice: This type of jaundice develops due to an obstruction in your bile duct, restricting the bilirubin to exit the liver.
The common causes of jaundice are as follows:
- Inflammation of the liver disables the secretion and production of bilirubin and results in a buildup of bilirubin.
- Inflammation of the bile duct disables the secretion of bile juice, which results in bilirubin removal and leads to jaundice.
- In case the bile duct gets obstructed, the liver cannot dispose the bilirubin and leads to hyperbilirubinemia.
- Hemolytic anaemia may result in jaundice. When a large number of red blood cells break down, bilirubin production gets enhanced.
- An inherited condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome may also lead to jaundice. The enzyme’s ability to process bile excretion is also impaired.
- Another medical condition called Cholestasis disrupts the flow of bile from the liver. The conjugated bilirubin containing bile remains in the liver and leads to jaundice.
- Jaundice is also caused from alcoholic liver disease, caused due to excess alcohol consumption.
Treatment of jaundice
Jaundice itself cannot be cured and hence, the underlying cause of the jaundice is treated. Different types of jaundice are cured using different methods:
- Jaundice induced by anaemia can be cured by increasing the iron amount in your blood. This is done by intake of iron supplements or having iron rich food.
- Jaundice caused from hepatitis is treated by injections of anti-viral and steroid medicines.
- Obstruction induced jaundice has to be treated by surgical means. The obstruction is removed by surgery.
- Jaundice inflicted from medication is usually treated by choosing alternative medicines and abstaining from the medicines which caused the jaundice.
- Jaundice can be kept away if you take proper care of your liver. For this, you should eat a balanced diet, work out regularly and prohibit yourself from consuming excess of alcohol.
Jaundice is the most common type of liver disorder and occurs in people of all ages and also in newborn babies. Keep away from contaminated food and water, if you want to avoid jaundice.