Jaundice

Introduction to Jaundice
Jaundice is a disease which is caused by abnormal functioning of liver or any kind of infection in liver. Malfunctioning of the liver releases bile salts into the intestine, which get mixed with blood and gives yellow color to the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow pigment is from bilirubin, which is a by-product of the daily natural breakdown and destruction of red blood cells in the body.
Jaundice occurs when there is:

  • Too much bilirubin being produced for the liver to remove from the blood.
  • A defect in the liver that prevents bilirubin from being removed from the blood
  • Blockage of the bile ducts that decreases the flow of bile and bilirubin from the liver into the intestines

Types of Jaundice
The types of Jaundice include:

  • Neonatal Jaundice - occurring in newborns a few days after birth
  • Hemolytic jaundice - from red blood cells being broken down
  • Obstruction jaundice - an obstruction in the bile ducts or digestive area
  • Hepatocellular jaundice - when the liver fails to process bilirubin

Signs / Symptoms of Jaundice
Jaundice is a sign of an underlying disease process. Common signs and symptoms seen in individuals with jaundice include:

  • Yellow discoloration of the skin, tongue, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eyes
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itching of the skin
  • Nausea, vomiting and undue fatigue
  • Abdominal pain (Dull pain in the liver region)
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Swelling of the legs and abdomen

Related Tests to Jaundice
Testing may include:
Laboratory Tests such as:

  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)
  • Reticulocyte Count (if CBC is abnormal)
  • Prothrombin time
  • Urine and fecal urobilinogen
  • Liver function tests and cholesterol
  • ALT (Alanine aminotransferase)
  • ALP (Alkaline phosphatase)
  • AST (Aspartate aminotransferase)
  • Blood serum bilirubin
  • Albumin
  • GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transferase)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Non-Laboratory Tests such as:
Imaging tests and liver biopsies may be used to help evaluate the status and structure of the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Testing may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT (Computed tomography) scan
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan):
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Liver biopsy

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