Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a term used to describe a yellowish tinge to the skin and sclerae (the white part of the eye) that is caused by hyperbilirubinemia (an excess of bilirubin in the blood). Body fluids may also be yellow.
The colour of the skin and sclerae varies depending on levels of bilirubin; mildly elevated levels display yellow skin and sclerae, while highly elevated levels display brown.
Bilirubin is a waste product that remains in the bloodstream after the release of iron from haemoglobin, which is released by the degradation of erythrocytes (haemoglobin in cells and oxygen in the body).
When there is an excess of bilirubin it may leak out into surrounding tissues, saturating them with this yellow substance.
Bilirubin that is going around freely in the blood is called unconjugated bilirubin. One of the liver’s functions is to filter out waste, such as bilirubin, from the blood.
Jaundice In Newborn Baby:
Jaundice is most common in newborns in most cases. It occurs as a result of the liver under developing and not fully functional. In most cases, it is seen that there is nothing to worry about neonatal jaundice as it does not require any form of treatment, and it usually resolves within a week or two.
Jaundice In Adults:
Jaundice in adults is usually a sign of an underlying health problem.
There are three types of jaundice:
- Hemolytic: Too much bilirubin is produced, which results in the breakdown of large numbers of red blood cells.
- Hepatocellular: Hepatocellular jaundice is the most common type of jaundice and occurs when bilirubin is unable to release liver cells and cannot be removed from the body by the kidneys.
- Obstructive: Obstructive jaundice occurs when there is a blockage in the bile duct, which stops bilirubin from leaving the liver. This type of jaundice is usually the cause of a tumour, gallstones, bile duct, or cyst in the pancreas.
What are the signs of jaundice?
The most pervasive sign of jaundice is a yellow tinge to the skin and sclerae (whites of the eyes). This usually starts at the head and spreads down the body.
There are three main jaundice overview types of symptoms:
- Hepatocellular: A type of jaundice that occurs as a result of liver disease or injury.
- Hemolytic: A type of jaundice that occurs as a result of hemolysis (an accelerated breakdown of erythrocytes – red blood cells) leading to an increase in production of bilirubin.
- Obstructive: A type of jaundice that occurs as a result of an obstruction in the bile duct (a system of tubes that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine), which prevents bilirubin from leaving the liver.
Common symptoms of jaundice include:
- Yellow tinge to the skin and the whites of the eyes.
- Pruritus (itchiness).
- Abdominal pain – typically indicates a blockage of the bile duct.
- Weight loss.
- Paler than usual stools.
- Dark urine.
What Causes Jaundice?
Jaundice most often occurs as a result of an underlying disorder that either causes tissues to become over-saturated with bilirubin or prevents the liver from disposing of bilirubin.
Some underlying conditions that may cause jaundice are:
- Acute inflammation of the liver – may impair the ability of the liver to conjugate and secrete bilirubin, resulting in a buildup of bilirubin.
- Inflammation of the bile duct – may prevent the secretion of bile and removal of bilirubin, causing jaundice.
- Obstruction of the bile duct – prevents the liver from disposing of bilirubin, which results in hyperbilirubinemia.
- Hemolytic anaemia – production of bilirubin increases when large quantities of erythrocytes are broken down.
- Gilbert’s syndrome – an inherited condition that impairs the ability of enzymes (biomolecules that provoke chemical reactions between substances) to process the excretion of bile.
- Cholestasis-a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is interrupted. Bile-containing conjugated bilirubin remains in the liver rather than in excretion.
How to prevent jaundice?
There are many reasons for jaundice and therefore it is difficult to provide specific prevention measures. Some common tips are:
- Focus on your healthy weight and maintain it.
- Maintain your cholesterol.
- Most importantly, avoid hepatitis infection.
- Do not take alcohol beyond the limit.
How can jaundice in adults be prevented?
Jaundice is related to the function of the liver, so you must maintain this vital organ’s health by eating a balanced diet, exercising at least 30 minutes five times a week, and refraining from exceeding recommended amounts of alcohol.
How can jaundice in newborn babies be prevented?
It is not possible to stop a newborn from being affected. Ways to prevent it from becoming serious with current precautions are:
- The baby should be breastfed 8-12 times each day for the primary few days. This helps to stay the kid hydrated which is important for the straightforward removal of bilirubin from his/her body.
- If the mother is not breastfeeding the newborn, mothers may give them 2 ounces of formula every two to three hours within the first week. Premature babies or smaller babies require less formula and therefore the children who are breastfeeding also require less amount of formula.
Diet In Jaundice:
Due to inflammation of the liver, jaundice is a disease that indicates the underlying pathological process.
During the breakdown of the red blood corpus or RBC in the liver, there is a by-product called bilirubin, which is yellow in colour which runs from the blood which gives a yellowishness to the skin.
If someone is suffering from this disease, it is best to avoid certain foods that provide the liver with complex chemicals for the process.
Recommended foods for jaundice patients are:
- Drink approximately eight glasses of water. Water helps flush out the harmful waste-products of our liver which is bilirubin and keeps blood levels in check.
- Mango, Pineapple, and Honey: It contains natural digestive enzymes.
- Milk thistle helps in the recovery process by protecting the liver from harmful toxins.
- Start drinking coffee every day as it benefits the patient.
- Nuts and fibre-rich vegetables: Fiber absorbs bilirubin.
- Always trying to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and wash them before use.
Avoid these things:
- Refined sodium and sugar.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol causes tremendous pressure on the liver.
- If you are eating meat daily, then keep in mind that the saturated fat found in meat is also difficult for your liver to process.