Jaundice is a term describes the yellowing of skin and eyes caused by an increased amount of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is formed when hemoglobin breaks down as a part of the natural process of cell recycling. It is carried in the blood to the liver where it binds with bile. Bilirubin is then moved through the bile ducts to digestive track for its elimination from the body. If bilirubin cannot be moved through the liver and bile ducts, it builds up in the blood and gets deposited in the skin. This condition is jaundice.
Many people suffering from jaundice may also have dark urine and light-colored stool. These changes occur when any type of blockage or other problems prevent the excretion of bilirubin via stool, causing more bilirubin to be eliminated via the urine.
If the level of bilirubin is high, substances caused by bile breakdown may get accumulate and cause itching all over the body.
Various disorders may cause jaundice. It is helpful to understand various causes of jaundice by detecting the problems that disturbs normal metabolism and elimination of bilirubin. Most common causes include:
Alcoholic liver disease
Alcoholic liver disease is caused when an individual consumes alcohol in a large amount causing damage to the liver and ultimately individual will have a problem in bilirubin metabolism.
Bile obstructions usually tumor or blockage
If the bile ducts are blocked, bilirubin gets a deposit in the blood. Gallstones are the main reason for duct blockage. But some blockage is caused by cancer also.
Types are categorized on the basis of where they happen within the liver’s process of taking in and eliminating out the bilirubin.
In these cases jaundice can be caused by a rapid increase in the breakdown and destructions of red blood cells, increasing the liver’s ability to adequately remove the increased amount of bilirubin from the blood.
Some examples of such conditions with increased breakdown of RBC:
In these cases, there is malfunctioning of the hepatic cells. The liver loses the power to conjugate bilirubin. But there are some cases where it may become cirrhotic. It compresses the intrahepatic regions of bile ducts which cause obstacles. This leads to both conjugated and unconjugated bilirubin in the bloodstreams, also termes as “mixed pictures”.
In these cases, jaundice is termed as obstructive jaundice. It is caused by conditions which interfere normal draining of conjugated bilirubin from the liver to the intestines.
This is common type of jaundice found in newborn babies. Most babies are born with a average amount of RBC but bilirubin cannot be processed quickly because the liver is not completely developed in the newborns. This can be the result of a child having symptoms of jaundice.
Following are the types of neonatal jaundice:
Prematurity – This happens when the baby is born earlier and unable to excrete out bilirubin properly
Incompatibility of blood type – This results when both the baby and the mother are having different blood groups which may cause the mother to prepare antibodies which can destroy the baby’s RBC.
Breastfeeding – This happens to those babies who are having trouble breastfeeding and do not get enough milk.
Generally neonatal jaundice is not a usual cause for concern. But it can be very risky if the level of bilirubin is extremely high. In this case, a child can suffer brain damage (Kernicterus) from bilirubin reaching in the blood tissue.
Since jaundice has many causes, it is hard to take all the preventive measures. However, by taking some of the enlisted precautions one can reduce the chances of having jaundice.
Vaccinate yourself against hepatitis A and hepatitis B
Diet plays a very significant role in prevention and healing from jaundice. During the digestion process, the liver produces bile that helps the intestine in breaking down fats. The liver also plays an important role in metabolizing digested nutrients, medications and toxins.
The amount of work the liver has to do depends on the nature of food i.e, how easily the food can be digested. Some drugs and medications can damage the liver cell’s metabolism.People suffering from jaundice are advised to eat food and drinks that help to improve digestion and metabolism and detoxify the liver.
Fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegitables contain fibres and antioxidants that helps in metabolism and digestion. The following fruits and vegetables are suggested to be added in the diet of the patients who are suffering from jaundice:
Cranberries, blueberries, and grapes, papaya, melons, citrus fruits, sweet potato, pumpkins, olives, avocados, tomato, carrot, beets, turnips. Green leafy vegetables, etc.
Water – Staying hydrated is one of the best way to help from the recovery of jaundice. Water helps to ease the digestion process and filter out toxins from the kidney and liver.
Herbal tea and coffee – They contain a high number of antioxidants and caffeine which stimulates digestion.
Grains – Whole grains contain liver-friendly nutrients, good fats and fibres.
Patients are advised to avoid those food items which can damage the liver and kidney. Some of those includes:
Doctore will ask the patient’s history and physical exam to diagnose jaundice and evaluate bilirubin levels. Many tests can confirm jaundice. The liver test is the first and most common test to know whether the liver is working properly or not.
Following tests are useful in jaundice confirmation:-
LFT (Liver Function Test) – The liver function test (LFT) is the first and most common test to know whether the liver is working properly or not. LFT is a profile of blood tests that provide useful information about the state of the liver. It measures the levels of proteins, liver enzymes and bilirubin in your blood.
Bilirubin tests – Levels of conjugated bilirubin are compared with levels of unconjugated bilirubin to analyze hemolytic jaundice.
Complete Blood Count (CBC) – CBC test is used to evaluate the no. of RBC, WBC, and platelets count in the blood.
Kidney Function Test (KFT) – KFT is a profile of biochemistry blood tests which are useful to assess the renal function. KFT test is also commonly known as Renal Function Test, RFT, Kidney Profile or Kidney Panel.
Note: Always consult with your physician for exact information (or before the test).
Diagnostic and Pathology Tests Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).
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