Jaundice - Health Center

Jaundice

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

JAUNDICE (YELLOW FEVER) - Overview

Jaundice all over the world is also known by the name of icterus. This is term which is known to describe the yellow tinge to the skin as well as the sclera which is caused due to the hyperbilirubinemia (excessive amount of bile in the blood). It has been noticed that when a person is suffering from Jaundice, then the body fluids of the affected person to change their colour to yellow.

Bilirubin, which is a yellow coloured substance, is the one which is responsible for imparting yellow tinge to the body during the disease. Usually, bilirubin is a waste product which is known to remain in the bloodstream of the person when the iron compound is removed from the haemoglobin.

With the breaking down of the erythrocytes, an excessive amount of bilirubin tends to leak into the tissues, thus causing the yellowish tinge.
Bilirubin generally tends to circulate freely throughout the blood of a person and in such a state it is known as unconjugated bilirubin. One of the major functions of the liver is to filter out the waste materials from the body. Bilirubin is one of the major waste products that is filtered out of the liver in the form of bile.

The word Jaundice has been derived from the French word, ‘Jaunisse’. Jaun means yellow and isse means ness. Therefore, jaundice is primarily known as a disease which spreads with the yellowness of the body.

Major types of Jaundice

There are three major types of Jaundice that are known all over the world:

  • Hepatocellular Jaundice: This is the type of jaundice that occurs due to the resulting liver disease or due to any injury to the liver.
  • Haemolytic Jaundice: This type of jaundice is known to occur due to the resulting haemolysis (the acceleration in the breakdown of the erythrocytes or the RBC’s). This leads to the increase in the production of the bilirubin in the body of the affected person.
  • Obstructive Jaundice: This type of jaundice occurs due to the obstruction in the bile duct of a person. Bile ducts are the tubes which carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder as well as the small intestine. Blockage in the bile ducts prevents the bilirubin from leaving the liver and thus results in the accumulation.

Causes of Jaundice

The major reason for the occurrence of Jaundice is the result of an underlying disorder which causes the tissues of the body to become over saturated over the length of time with bilirubin and therefore, makes it very hard for the liver to dispose of the extra bilirubin.

However, some of the major conditions which could cause the occurrence of jaundice are:

  • Excessive Inflammation of the liver: When this occurs, this leads to the impairment of the liver to conjugate as well as secrete bilirubin. This leads to the excessive build-up of bilirubin in the body of the person.
  • Inflammation of the bile Duct: With the inflammation, the secretion of bile is prevented along with the removal of bilirubin, which results in causing jaundice.
  • Obstruction of the bile duct: This prevents the liver from disposing off the bilirubin, which results in a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia.
  • Haemolytic Anaemia: In this case, the production of bilirubin drastically increases due to the breakdown of a large amount of erythrocytes.
  • Gilbert’s Syndrome: This is an inherited condition which causes the impairment of the enzymes as well as their ability to process the emission of the excess bile from the body.
  • Cholestasis: This happens to be a condition in which the flow of the bile juice from the liver has been interrupted. Due to this, the bilirubin which stays in the body in a conjugated form remains inside the liver only, instead of being excreted out.
  • Psuedojaundice: This is also known as false jaundice. This is a harmless condition in which the skin of the person develops a yellowish tinge due to the extra accumulation of beta carotene. Usually, this happens in people who consume large amounts of melons, pumpkins and carrots.
  • Crigler – Najjar Syndrome: This is also a hereditary condition which goes out to impair the enzymes in the body of a person. These enzymes are known to be responsible for the production of bilirubin and therefore, due to this, there is an excessive amount of bilirubin in the body of an affected person.
  • Dubin – Johnson Syndrome: Another form of inherited jaundice, this is known to prevent the conjugation of the bilirubin and their secretion from the liver cells of the person.

Major Signs and Symptoms for Jaundice

Some of them are as follows:

  • Itchiness of the skin
  • Increased fatigue
  • Pain in the abdomen, due to the blockage of the bile duct
  • Loss in weight
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pale stools
  • Darker urine

Tests and Diagnosis of Jaundice

One of the major ways to diagnose Jaundice is to go through the history of the patient accompanied by a physical exam. Paying a very detailed attention to abdomen is another major area for the detection of the disease. Majorly, doctors search for the masses or tumours around the abdomen area along with the firmness of the liver, which could be another sign for liver cirrhosis in many cases.

Along with the physical exams, doctors use tests as well in order to check the functioning of the liver and to find out the discrepancies in the organ, if any.

In some cases, if the disease is not recognized by merely a physical exam, then blood tests are run in order to check the level of bilirubin in the body and therefore to evaluate the major composition of the blood.

Some of the best used tests are as follows:

  • Bilirubin Tests: These check the body for the high levels of unconjugated bilirubin levels.
  • Full Blood Count or Complete Blood Count: These are done in order to check the level of erythrocytes in the blood along with the leukocytes as well as thrombocytes.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): In this test, the magnetic signals are used so that the doctors can see through the thin slices of the human body. This test is well known to check the cause as well as the location of the obstruction in the bile duct of a person.
  • CT (Computerized Tomography): In this scan, a thin beam of x Rays is used in order to create the images of slices of the soft tissues of the body. With this, tumours can be easily detected and therefore, dilation of the bile ducts can be detected soon as well.
  • ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreateography): In this test, the patient is allowed to swallow an endoscope which can reach to the bile duct of a person. Also, when the X ray contrast is done with the solution, the cause as well as the location of the obstruction in the bile duct can be easily identified.

Treatment and Prevention for Jaundice

Once the diagnosis has been complete, the treatment of jaundice can begin with the selection of the appropriate treatment option by the patient and the doctor. For different types of jaundice, the treatment options too are different.

For anaemia induced jaundice, the treatment option is the increase in the amount of iron in the blood as well as taking along some iron supplements or consuming food rich in iron compounds.

  • Hepatitis induced jaundice can be treated with the help of anti viral and steroids.
  • Obstruction induced jaundice can be treated with surgery in order to remove the basic cause for the obstruction.
  • Medication induced jaundice can be treated with the shift in the medication and changing the course or discontinuing the use of medication.
  • Prevention of Jaundice is very optimal. Since this disease is related to the function of the liver, it’s best to take the best care of the organ with the consumption of a balanced diet along with brisk morning walk at least five times a week. Also, since alcohol damages the liver the most, abstinence from it, can be deemed quite helpful as well.
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