Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of skin, visible mucous membranes and the whiteness of the eyes. It is a symptoms of numerous diseases basically those that are connected with the liver.
The jaundice results as a consequence of increased level of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a substance that originates from erythrocytes. Namely, after these blood cells have been demolished or ended their lives bilirubin is actually what is left. The increased level of bilirubin in blood also leads to increased level of this substance in the urine. This is why the color of urine changes and it becomes darker than usual.
The liver and kidneys are in charge of elimination of the bilirubin from the body. In majority of cases problems with liver lead to hyperbilirubinemia and consequent jaundice.
Cause of Jaundice
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Jaundice always occurs in acute hepatitis. This medical condition is in majority of cases caused by viral infection. Viruses A,B, C, D, and E are responsible for acute hepatitis and resulting jaundice. In chronic hepatitis which is caused by alcohol abuse jaundice can be also present. Even certain toxins can lead to acute hepatitis with jaundice as only one of the possible symptoms.
- Obstruction of the Bile Duct
The bile duct carries bile from the liver into the intestines. If this duct is blocked jaundice occurs. The blockage of the bile duct can be caused by gallstones or the tumor of the pancreatic head.
Hemolytic anemia is a medical condition that features with increased destruction of red blood cells. This leads to excess of bilirubin that further accumulates in the skin causing jaundice.
Gilbert's syndrome is a hereditary medical condition that features with increased levels of bilirubin. The problem lies in insufficient function of certain enzymes that are necessary for elimination of bilirubin. Fortunately, the jaundice is not severe and it can be triggered by excessive strain and improper diet. Even dieting can trigger the jaundice in people who are suffering from Gilbert's syndrome.
Neonatal jaundice may affect newborn babies. Up to a half of all babies are affected. Neonatal jaundice can be easily explained by immature liver of the infant which is not capable to eliminate bilirubin. The condition is not serious. It starts a few days after the delivery and does not last longer than 10 days. Neonatal jaundiced does not require any therapy at all.
In rather rare cases jaundice can be caused by several syndromes including Crigler-Najjar syndrome, Dubin-Johnson syndrome and Rotor's syndrome. In all these syndromes there is a problem connected to inadequate processing or elimination of bilirubin from the body.