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Jaundice Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention


 Jaundice Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Jaundice Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Jaundice is an illness caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the blood. It causes jaundice of the eyes and skin. Learn about its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

What is jaundice?

It is the yellowing of the whites of the eyes, and in the case of severe jaundice, it may reach a yellowing of the color of the skin itself because of an increase in the rate of bile pigment in the blood.

The bile pigment is formed because of the breakdown of hemoglobin in red blood cells as part of the normal process of recycling old or damaged red blood cells. Then the bile pigment is excreted by the liver into the bile ducts as part of the bile to reach the intestines and from there to the stool, while a small amount of the bile pigment is excreted in the urine.

Types and causes of jaundice:

Hemolytic jaundice:

 Where the proportion of bile pigment in the blood increases because of the increased breakdown of red blood cells, as in diseases such as malaria, and cases of chronic red blood cell breakdown such as cases of thalassemia.

Obstructive jaundice:

As a result of a blockage in the main bile duct of the liver, which obstructs the access of bile to the intestines.

Causes of bile duct obstruction:

Gallstones: It is one of the most common causes of blockage of the bile duct because of the descent of small stones (less than 1 cm) from the gallbladder to the bile duct.

Biliary tract tumors.

narrowing of the bile duct

Pancreas cancer

Worms such as Ascaris or Fasciola

Hepatic jaundice:

As a result of some diseases that may lead to a failure in the functions of the liver, it cannot get rid of the bile pigment properly, which leads to an increase in its percentage in the blood, such as:

Acute viral hepatitis due to viruses A, B, C, D, or E.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Primary biliary cirrhosis and sclerosing cholangitis

Some medicines such as birth control pills and some medicines such as antibiotics.

Excess alcohol intake.

Cirrhosis of the liver, whatever its cause.

Malignant liver tumors

Symptoms of jaundice and accompanying symptoms:

Yellowish discoloration of the eye and skin.

Change in urine color to dark brown as in the case of obstructive jaundice or hepatic jaundice and not hemolytic jaundice.

Abdominal pain and severe cramps in obstructive jaundice, especially in the presence of gallstones.

Symptoms of liver failure, such as ascites, vomiting blood (bleeding esophageal varices), and hepatic coma in case of hepatic jaundice.

Anemia in the case of hemolytic jaundice.

When does a jaundiced patient need an urgent consultation with a doctor?

High temperature and shivering

Weight loss

Rectal bleeding or vomiting blood

Stool turning black

Decreased amount of urine flowing per day

Diagnosis of jaundice:

A blood picture to detect anemia, as in the case of hemolytic jaundice

Bilirubin level and liver enzymes

kidney function test

Liver virus analysis in case of hepatic jaundice for virus A especially in children, viruses B, C, or E.

Abdominal ultrasound:

It is the most important examination to discover the cause of jaundice, such as cirrhosis of the liver or blockage of the bile duct.

Endoscopy of the bile ducts (ERCP):

 It is a thin, flexible tube with a camera tip that sends images to a screen. The endoscope is inserted from the mouth into the esophagus, then the stomach, and then the duodenum until we reach the exit of the bile duct into the duodenum, where a catheter is inserted into the bile duct and a dye is injected, which is at this moment radiography is done to examine the bile ducts and determine the location of the blockage and its cause, and not only this. It is possible to unblock the bile duct by removing stones inside the bile duct or installing a stent for the bile duct in the case of bile duct tumors, pancreatic tumors, or a narrowing of the bile duct.

Treatment of jaundice:

It is the treatment of the cause of jaundice such as:

Hepatitis virus treatment

Treatment of blockage of the bile ducts through the endoscopy of the bile ducts, as mentioned previously.

 Treatment of cirrhosis of the liver

Prevention of jaundice:

Prevention of hepatitis viruses:

Vaccination in case of viruses A and B

Avoid using shared needles or syringes

Eat in a hygienic place, as virus A or E is transmitted through food and drink.

Avoid unsafe sex which may transmit hepatitis B.

Screening of pregnant mothers for hepatitis B virus, because it can transmit to the baby through the placenta.

Avoid excess alcohol intake

Avoid unwise use of the medications


Jaundice is one of the symptoms that coincide with serious diseases such as liver disease or blockage of the bile duct, so if this symptom appears, it is necessary to consult a doctor to determine the cause and treatment.