How To Deal With Jaundice?

Overview | Facts | Types | Causes | Symptoms | Risk | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

What is Jaundice?

The word ‘Jaundice’  is derived from the French word ‘Jaune’, which means – yellow. It is a medical term that refers to the yellowing tinge of the skin, mucous membrane, and whites of the eyes. In this, our body fluid also turns yellow in color. The color of the skin and the whites of the eyes depends on the level of bilirubin present in your body. Bilirubin is a waste material of the body present in our blood. If the level of the bilirubin is moderate, your skin and eyes will turn yellow; and if the level is high, the color of the skin and whites if the eyes will turn brown. The elevated level of bilirubin in the blood is known as hyperbilirubinemia.

Jaundice can attack anyone, regardless of age and gender. Although, jaundice actually is not a disease but is a sort of signal that there is something wrong with your liver or bile duct.

Let’s know some facts first before its causes, diagnosis, and treatment; to know how common or severe it is.

Facts about Jaundice:

  • About 60% of newborn babies in the US have jaundice.
  • When a person has an excess of bilirubin in the blood, from 2.5 – 3 mg/dL (milligram per decilitre), then this condition is considered jaundice.
  • In some conditions, jaundice can be life-threatening.

Types of jaundice:

The three main types of jaundice are as follows:

  1. Obstructive jaundice – When an obstruction is produced in the bile duct and prohibits the bilirubin from leaving the liver, then jaundice occurs due to this condition is known as obstructive jaundice.
  2. Hemolytic jaundice: As its name suggests, it is caused by hemolysis. Hemolysis is a condition in which the rate of breakdown of RBCs increases abruptly, due to lack of hemoglobin. This breakdown of RBCs increases the level of bilirubin in the blood, hence results in hemolytic jaundice.
  3. Hepatocellular jaundice: It is caused by liver disease or injury.

Causes of jaundice:

Some internal conditions that lead to jaundice are —

  • New-born jaundice – When an infant has a high level of bilirubin shortly after birth, then the jaundice is called newborn jaundice. Within 2 -4 days of birth, the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow, and signs first appear on the face then spreads all over the body. High-pitch crying, fever, poor feeding, etc. Are the symptoms can be associated with jaundice. Although, it’s a common condition. It gets cured automatically when the liver of the baby develops and the baby begins to feed. Both processes help bilirubin to pass through the body.

Although, it can be life-threatening if not get diagnosed or monitored accurately. Newborn jaundice may lead to deafness, and brain diseases like cerebral palsy and others.

  • Hepatitis: It’s an inflammatory condition of the liver with symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, upper abdominal pain, itching skin with yellowish skin and eyes.  Its causes are extreme blood loss, autoimmune diseases, drugs, toxins, alcohol, etc. It can be acute or chronic based on the causes. Almost all types of hepatitis cause jaundice.
  • Pancreatic cancer: In this, the cells of the pancreas become cancerous and grow out of control. As it is difficult to diagnose, it is found in more advanced levels, mostly. Along with jaundice, it also has symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss, blood clot stomach, and lower back pain, etc.
  • Bile duct obstruction: This type of obstruction causes severe infection and the patient needs urgent medical help to survive. The most common cause of it is gallstones, followed by inflammation, cysts, liver damage or injury, gall bladder injury, etc. In this, the patient experiences dark color urine, light-colored stools, itchy skin without rashes, with yellowing of skin and eyes due to jaundice.
  • Yellow fever: It is a flu-like viral disease caused by mosquitoes. It’s a serious and potentially deadly disease. Its initial symptoms are fever, chills, headache, body ache, loss of appetite. These initial symptoms got vanished after about 24 hours and then return with new ones like vomiting, seizure, abdominal pain, bleeding from the mouth, nose, and even eyes.

Some other causes are:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Rare genetic metabolic defects
  • Weil’s disease
  • Drug-induced immune hemolytic anemia.
  • ABO incompatibility reaction
  • Idiopathic autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Inflammation of the bile duct
  • Liver cancer
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Obstruction of the bile duct
  • Hepatitis A
  • Gallstones
  • Alcohol liver disease
  • Hepatitis B
  • Thalassemia
  • Hepatitis D
  • Hepatitis E
  • Overdose of medications
  • Hepatitis C
  • G6PD deficiency
  • Gilbert’s syndrome
  • Breast milk jaundice
  • Cholestasis
  • Acute inflammation of the liver
  • Reabsorption of a large hematoma

Some rare causes are:

  • Crigler – Najjar syndrome
  • Pseudo jaundice
  •  Dubin – Johnson syndrome

Symptoms of jaundice:

  •  A yellow tinge starting from the head, especially visible on the skin and whites of the eyes, then spreads all over the body
  • Itchiness
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale stools
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Inflammation of joints
  • Swelling of the legs

Risk factors that may lead to jaundice are :

  1. Hereditary
  2. Alcohol consumption
  3. Undeveloped or later developed liver
  4. Drug injections
  5. Eating raw shellfish
  6. Tattoo
  7. Unvaccinated for hepatitis


Diagnosis starts with patient’s health history and family history, followed by physical examination. Doctor can also examine your stomach, liver, and check for tumours. Some tests can also be suggests a like —

  1. Liver function test – To check the functioning of liver
  2. Blood test
  3. Bilirubin
  4. Full blood count test
  5. Complete blood count test
  6. Hepatitis A, B and C test
  7. Imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan
  8. Ultrasound scan
  9. ERCP test
  10. Liver biopsies
  11. Urinalysis etc.

Treatment :

As we know, jaundice is not a disease in itself but a symptom of other diseases. So, if the cause gets treated then your jaundice will automatically come back to normal. In adults, jaundice can be easily cured just by treating the causes and symptoms. If needed, phototherapy can be used.  But, it is more problematic in infants. Fortunately, in infants too, jaundice gets resolved within two to three weeks. In severe cases, blood transfusion is the option to go with.


  • Drink loads of water.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid unhealthy food, especially those foods which can adversely affect the liver.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid hepatitis infection
  • Manage cholesterol
  • Maintain your healthy body weight
  • Avoid consuming an overdose of medications
  • Maintain hygiene
  • Avoid smoking

Similar Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Most Popular