Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Jaundice is a medical condition in which too much bilirubin - a waste product created when red blood cells break down – is circulating in the blood, causing your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow. Bilirubin is a yellow compound found in bile and is responsible for the yellowing of the skin and sclerae (whites of the eyes).
Anybody can get jaundice. In fact, jaundice is also a common occurrence in newborns, especially in babies who are born prematurely.
Types of jaundice
Three main types of jaundice are there - each results in yellowing pigmentation but for different reasons. They are:
Pre-hepatic jaundice – this type of jaundice occurs due to liver disease or injury.
Hepatocellular jaundice – this type of jaundice occurs as a result of hemolysis (an accelerated breakdown of erythrocytes - red blood cells) leading to an increase in production of bilirubin.
Post-hepatic jaundice or obstructive jaundice – this type of jaundice occurs as a result of an obstruction in the bile duct, which prevents bilirubin from leaving the liver.
Signs and symptoms of jaundice
The most common pervasive sign of jaundice is a yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes. In more severe cases, the whites of your eyes may turn brown or orange-coloured. Other symptoms may include -
- Dark-coloured urine
- Pale-coloured stool
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
If you develop the above signs of jaundice, seek immediate medical help. Jaundice can lead to liver failure if the cause is not identified and treated. Treatment depends on what's causing it. However, in newborns, mild cases of jaundice tend to go away on their own without treatment, and cause no lasting liver issues.
You can also take some steps to minimise your risk or prevent getting jaundice by –
- Maintaining a proper hygiene and sanitation
- Eating fresh and warm food
- Drinking boiled and filtered water
- Getting vaccinated with hepatitis vaccine
- Ensuring that you don't drink excessively in case you are alcoholic
- Maintaining a health weight by exercising regularly as high cholesterol levels in the body may increase your risk of other health complications, including hepatitis.