Jaundice | Symptoms, Causes and Cure of Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eye whites that occurs when bilirubin isn’t absorbed properly by the body. That may be because of a liver condition. It is often named as icterus. Bilirubin is a yellow-colored waste material that remains in the bloodstream after the degradation of hemoglobin.

Jaundice in adults is usually a symptom signaling the existence of underlying disorders involving impaired hemoglobin metabolism, liver dysfunction, or biliary tract obstruction. The incidence of jaundice in adults is uncommon, although jaundice in babies is common with an estimated 80% affected within their first week of life.

Jaundice is also a symptom of liver, gallbladder, or pancreatic disorders. Jaundice can occur when too much bilirubin is forming in the body. This may happen when:

  • Too many red blood cells die or break down, and go to the liver
  • The liver is not functioning properly
  • Hepatic bilirubin is not able to pass adequately into the digestive tract.

Risk Factors-  

  • Liver inflammation: This can impair the liver’s ability to conjugate and secrete bilirubin, leading to a buildup.
  • Bile duct inflammation: This can prevent bile secretion and bilirubin elimination, causing jaundice.
  • Bile duct obstruction: This prevents bilirubin from being disposed of in the liver.
  • Hemolytic anemia: Bilirubin development increases when large numbers of red blood cells break down.
  • Gilbert’s Syndrome: This is a genetic disorder that impairs the enzyme capacity to process bile excretion.
  • Cholestasis: This disrupts bile supply from the liver. Instead of being excreted the bile that contains conjugated bilirubin remains in the liver.

What falls under the Jaundice Causes category?

  • Viral infections of the Liver (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E) or parasites
  • Usage of certain medications (such as an acetaminophen overdose) or exposure to poisons
  • From birth, health conditions or disorders that make a break down of bilirubin difficult for the body (such as Gilbert syndrome, Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor syndrome, or Crigler-Najjar syndrome)
  • Acute and Chronic Hepatitis
  • Gallstones or gallbladder disorders which cause bile duct blockage
  • Blood disorders
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Gallbladder bile build-up due to pressure in the abdominal region during pregnancy (pregnancy jaundice)

Jaundice Symptoms Include-

Common symptoms of Jaundice are:

  • A yellow tinge of skin and eye whites, usually beginning at the head and spreading through the body
  • Pale coloured stools
  • Dark urine
  • Itching

Complementing jaundice signs arising from high levels of bilirubin include:

  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • pale stools
  • dark urine

Diagnosis

Urine test: It is used to measure levels of urobilinogen material. Urobilinogen is produced within the digestive system as bacteria break down bilirubin.

Blood tests: blood tests include blood levels of mainly liver-related enzymes such as aminotransferases (ALT, AST) and alkaline phosphatase ( ALP), bilirubin (which causes jaundice), and protein levels, specifically total protein and albumin.

Jaundice Prevention Methods-

All cases of jaundice may not be avoided since it can be caused by a wide variety of factors or circumstances.

It is, however, possible to decrease the risk of developing jaundice by taking some precautions. Including:

  • Ensuring that the recommended daily level (RDA) for alcohol intake should not be exceeded.
  • Get vaccinated for viral hepatitis

How can we treat Jaundice? What are the ways for Jaundice treatments?

Jaundice treatment will differ depending on the underlying cause. If a bile duct blockage is present, surgery is usually required; otherwise, treatment will be medical.

  • Also here are few subsequent treatments for Jaundice for e.g. –
  • Anemia-induced jaundice can be treated by managing the cause of anemia
  • Treatment of Jaundice caused by hepatitis includes antiviral and other supportive measures
  • If a drug has caused jaundice then treatment for this includes moving on alternative medicine.

How diet can help in recovering Jaundice?

The diet of an individual plays a major role in the recovery and prevention of jaundice. The liver produces bile during digestion that allows the intestine to break down fats.

The liver is also responsible for the digestion of the majority of food, toxins, and drugs being absorbed or metabolized. All the foods and beverages need a certain amount of work from the liver.

It is generally recommended that people with jaundice eat foods and beverages that help boost digestion and metabolism, protect the liver from further damage and detoxify the liver.

Which Jaundice Diet is recommended by a Doctor?

A doctor will guide an individualized care plan with dietary advice. These recommendations would vary depending on the complexity of the case and any medical problems that underlie it. But, most people with jaundice are encouraged to add some foods and beverages to their diet. For Example –

WATER

One of the easiest ways to help the liver heal from jaundice is to remain hydrated. Water not only helps to ease digestion but often helps the liver and kidneys to flush out contaminants.

Most people can consume at least 64 ounces of water a day, or up to 2 liters daily. You should try adding a teaspoon or more of fresh lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice to the water for an extra dose of antioxidants if you find the taste bland.

WHOLE GRAINS

Whole-grain foods, including healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, contain large levels of liver-friendly nutrients. A research in 2013 reported that subjects that ate beta-glucan-rich oats have improved liver function after 12 weeks of use.

NUTS AND LEGUMES

Most nuts and legumes are full of antioxidants including phenolic acid and vitamin E.

Whole nuts and legumes are also high in fiber and healthy fats, too. Studies indicate that, when eaten regularly, walnuts and other tree nuts are good for liver function.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain strong antioxidants and fiber that, during metabolism, can help to reduce liver damage and ease digestion. There is a certain amount of liver-friendly nutrients in all fruits and vegetables, but some types are particularly beneficial for liver conditions. This includes-

  • whole cranberries, blueberries, and grapes
  • citrus fruits, especially lemons, limes, and grapefruits
  • papayas and melons
  • pumpkins
  • tomatoes
  • carrots, beets, and turnips
  • ginger and garlic
  • Spinach and collard greens etc.

People should eat whole fruits and vegetables for maximum health benefits, and avoid high-calorie, low-fiber products, such as fruit juices and blends.

FAQ

Ques 1- What is Jaundice?

Ans – Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eye whites that occurs when bilirubin isn’t absorbed properly by the body. That may be because of a liver condition. It is often named as icterus.

Ques 2 – What are the causes of Jaundice?

Ans – Jaundice causes include Liver infection, a blood disorder, pancreatic cancer, etc.

Ques 3 – How can we treat Jaundice?

Ans – Jaundice treatment comprises of either surgery or medications.

 

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Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.