Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a medical condition characterised by yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes due to an accumulation of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is formed during the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. It is normally processed by the liver and excreted from the body through the bile, which is a digestive fluid. When this process is disrupted, bilirubin builds up, leading to the characteristic yellow discolouration.
Causes of Jaundice:
1. Hemolytic Jaundice: Caused by the increased breakdown of red blood cells, often due to conditions like hemolytic anemia or certain genetic disorders.
2. Hepatocellular Jaundice: Arises from liver damage or disease, such as viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, or alcohol-induced liver damage.
3. Obstructive Jaundice: Occurs when there's a blockage in the bile ducts, preventing the flow of bile from the liver to the intestines. This can be due to gallstones, tumours, or other obstructions.
Apart from the yellowing of the skin and eyes, jaundice can cause symptoms like dark urine, pale stools, fatigue, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Treatment of Jaundice
Our experts at Mediclinic City Hospital select the treatment of jaundice depending on its underlying cause. It is crucial to diagnose and treat the root cause to effectively manage the condition.
1. Treating Underlying Conditions:
- Hemolytic Jaundice: Addressing the underlying cause, such as managing anaemia or genetic conditions.
- Hepatocellular Jaundice: Treating liver diseases with medications, lifestyle changes, and, in severe cases, liver transplantation.
- Obstructive Jaundice: Surgical intervention to remove obstructions or clear the bile ducts, often involving procedures like gallstone removal or stent placement.
2. Supportive Care:
- Fluids and Nutrition: Adequate hydration and nutrition are essential for patients with jaundice to support liver function and promote healing.
- Pain Management: Patients with abdominal pain due to jaundice-related conditions might require pain relief.
For newborns with jaundice (known as neonatal jaundice), phototherapy is commonly used. Special lights help break down excess bilirubin in the baby's skin, reducing the yellowing.
4. Managing Symptoms:
- Itching: Antihistamines or prescribed creams can help alleviate itching caused by jaundice.
- Fatigue and Nausea: Rest, proper nutrition, and medications can help manage these symptoms.
Preventing jaundice involves avoiding risk factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting vaccinated against hepatitis, and seeking prompt medical attention for any symptoms of liver disease.
In conclusion, jaundice is a visible sign of underlying liver or blood-related issues. Its treatment varies depending on the cause, ranging from addressing underlying conditions to providing supportive care. Early diagnosis and appropriate management play a pivotal role in ensuring the best outcomes for patients with jaundice.