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The jaundice is a condition characterized because the skin and white parts of the eyes become yellowish due to high levels of bilirubin in the blood . It is a condition that can occur in people of all ages, although it is more common in newborns and adults, due to a wide selection of reasons: blood diseases, different genetic disorders, liver diseases, infections …

What is it?

Bilirubin originates when hemoglobin breaks down during the process of eliminating those red blood cells that are damaged. Thus, bilirubin is transported through the blood to the liver ; once it reaches this organ, it mixes with the bile. It is then when bilirubin is expelled through the bile ducts into the digestive tract, where it is eliminated by the body through feces and urine. Well, when bilirubin is not expelled through the bile ducts at the proper speed, it can accumulate in the blood and end up depositing on the skin. This is when what is known as jaundice arises.

Thus, one of the most common symptoms of this disease is dark urine and / or stools of a lighter tone than usual . When the concentration of bilirubin in the blood is much higher than its normal levels, it is common for patients to feel a great itching sensation throughout the body.

Causes of jaundice

Below we explain what are the main causes of this disease.


The hepatitis is a disease which affects the liver, so that this body is unable to expel the bilurrubina to the bile ducts . In the vast majority of cases, patients suffer from acute hepatitis, which lasts for less than six months; meanwhile, there are others who suffer from chronic hepatitis, which is generally caused by a virus. Acute viral hepatitis is one of the main causes of jaundice, especially in young people without any chronic disease.

Liver disease caused by alcohol consumption

Consuming large amounts of alcohol for a long period of time can lead to various lesions in the liver. Although the amount of alcohol varies depending on each person, but the approximate time to generate injuries ranges between eight and ten years .

Blockage of the bile ducts

When the bile ducts are blocked, bilirubin is likely to build up in the blood. The most common cause of this condition is a gallstone ; however, others can also occur, such as pancreatic tumor or biliary cholangitis.

Gilbert syndrome

Gilbert’s Syndrome is characterized by bilirubin levels that are slightly higher than usual . In the vast majority of cases they are not enough to cause jaundice, although in certain patients they are, especially young people in good health.

Symptoms of jaundice

Importantly, jaundice in the vast majority of cases is just a symptom of liver disease. Thus, a large selection of conditions that cause jaundice give rise to other relatively serious symptoms: spider-shaped blood vessels that are visible on the skin , nausea, vomiting, and even dizziness. In men, other symptoms may occur such as a sudden enlargement of the breasts and a decrease in the size of the testicles.

You may also be interested in:   High Bilirubin

Diagnosis and treatment

Jaundice is relatively easy to detect as the skin takes on a yellowish hue. In addition, there may be a number of warning signs, such as severe abdominal pain, blood in the stool, or fever . Well, at the slightest symptom of jaundice it is important to see a doctor.

First, the doctor will ask about the symptoms presented, as well as the medical history of the patient. It is very important to be precise with the symptoms since for example sudden loss of appetite, vomiting and fever can be warning signs of hepatitis.

You will then proceed to perform a physical exam. To detect whether the liver or spleen has increased, you will gently press on the abdomen.

And finally, it will request those complementary tests that it deems appropriate based on the symptoms described by the patient and the physical examination performed. The most common is to request a blood test to determine the functioning of the liver and if there is any type of abnormality in this organ; In addition, a diagnostic test is performed, such as ultrasound or MRI. In the case of bile duct obstruction, this abnormality is easily diagnosable by ultrasound .

Treatment of jaundice

The treatment of jaundice generally depends on the cause that gave rise to this condition. If there is an obstruction in the bile ducts, the usual procedure is to perform an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography to open them.

If, on the other hand, the tests determine that jaundice is due to acute viral hepatitis, in those patients in good health it can gradually disappear without the need for any treatment.


At the slightest symptom it is important to see a doctor since various serious problems may arise, such as ascites , that is, the accumulation of fluid inside the abdomen. What is known as portal hypertension can also arise; a condition characterized by increased pressure in the veins responsible for transporting blood to the liver, which can cause bleeding in both the esophagus and the stomach.

Jaundice in Newborns

Newborns are one of the population groups most affected by jaundice. The causes of this condition are generally two.

Physiological jaundice

It is the most common of all, and it is due to the fact that the red blood cells of the smallest ones break down at a faster rate than usual . As the digestive tract and liver mature, the jaundice gradually disappears. Generally, this condition occurs between two and four days after birth.

In the vast majority of cases, it does not require any treatment. You just have to increase the frequency of the shots; These should be done eight to twelve times a day.

Breastfeeding jaundice

Another common type of jaundice in newborn babies. It occurs in those little ones who do not consume enough breast milk ; This causes your bowel movements to occur less frequently and therefore bilirubin builds up in your bloodstream.

In the same way as physiological jaundice, the only possible treatment is to increase the frequency of feedings. Sometimes when bilirubin levels in babies are very high, a good solution is to supplement breastfeeding with artificial feeding.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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