Jaundice is liver disease, characterized by the deposition of bile pigments or increased amount of bilirubin. Because of that, patients are found to experience discoloration and yellowing of the eyes and the skin. Jaundice may be: hemolytic (the most common type), obstructive or hepato-cellular. Hemolytic jaundice is caused by the excess destruction of red blood cells. Destruction of these cells lead to increased level of bilirubins and the whole body of the patient becomes yellow because of these substances.
Apart from the yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes, the symptoms may include: light colored stool and darkening of the urine color and increased level of bilirubin. Patients may suffer from anemia, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pains, fever, weakness and loss of appetite. Headache and confusions are also frequently found in patients suffering from hemolytic jaundice, as well as some swelling of the legs or abdominal area of the body.
Babies may start to cry in high pitched tone and refuse the food. Their muscles can become weak. Lethargy and seizures are also seen in babies suffering from hemolytic jaundice.
Causes of Hemolytic Jaundice
Hemolytic jaundice in newborns is physiological condition. It means that many babies have it, especially those born a month or more before the term. Their liver is under-developed and it is not able to excrete bilirubins. In the womb, mother’s body is taking care of the baby as well. When the baby is born, it should be able to work on its own, but since it’s not – babies may easily get hemolytic jaundice.
Other possible causes of hemolytic jaundice may include: bacterial or viral infection of the body, use of certain drugs like acetaminophen or estrogens but also intake of alcohol. Antibodies in the serum may also be responsible for hemolytic jaundice and also some trauma to red blood cells (known as cardiac hemolysis).
Sickle cell anemia, congenital spherocytosis and deficiency of G6PD (enzyme in the body, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) can also be causes of this condition.
Enlarged spleen in Hodgkin’s disease or decreased conjugation of bilirubin, combined with fasting and dehydration (as it happens in Gilbert’s syndrome) could also lead to hemolytic jaundice.
Home Care Tips for Hemolytic Jaundice
Avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water and follow recommended diet when you have hemolytic jaundice. Use prescribed medications and consult with the doctor before any additional treatment you might want to start, including herbal or homeopathic remedies.
Worsening of the symptoms must be reported to your doctor immediately, to avoid potentially serious consequences.