Jaundice: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Jaundice is a condition which is commonly detected as the yellowing of the skin, sclera (white part of the eye), and mucous membrane of an individual. It is caused because of bilirubin, a bile pigment yellow-orange in colour. While this is something on the surface, what Jaundice does is more than just it. In most everyday cases, it is harmless, but many cases deteriorate further, causing harm to internal organs.

Liver and Gallbladder malfunction is the most common outcome of Jaundice which can be treated if the patient has no other underlying significant disease accompanying it.

Causes of Jaundice

There are a lot of reasons why one might get Jaundice. The causes are directly related to the production of bilirubin. It can be before, during, or after the production of bilirubin. Some of them can be noted as follows:

  • Virus: Certain viruses are known to cause Jaundice. It includes Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. There can also be an infection caused by Epstein- Barr virus, leading to Jaundice.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol abuse or too much consumption of alcohol can affect the functioning of the liver and cause severe Jaundice in individuals.
  • Certain medicines: Certain drugs and medicines used to treat other severe diseases can also lead to Jaundice.
  • Gall bladder disorders: Gall bladder stones, inflammation of the Gall bladder, and even Gall bladder cancer can cause Jaundice in the patient.
  • Hemolysis: It is a condition where red blood cells are destructed before they are supposed to, causing too much release into the body. It can be auto-immune hemolysis or something which is known as newborn hemolysis (in newborns), which leads to Jaundice.
  • Bile duct disorders: Sometimes, the flow of bile is
  • Hereditary conditions are also known to cause Jaundice in individuals.
  • Symptoms of Jaundice

    While it is easy to detect Jaundice with the discoloration of body parts, there are specific other symptoms as well which show up with Jaundice:

  • Fever and Chills: It has flu-like symptoms like fever and chills and body pain and weakness.
  • Discoloration of skin and eyes (yellowing) It leads to the yellowing of particular body parts.
  • Colour of urine: There is a change in the colour of urine. It is darkened and more yellowish in colour.
  • Stool colour: There is discoloration in the stool as well. In some cases, some blood can also be seen with stool.
  • Pain in the abdomen: Mild to severe pain along with discomfort can be felt in the abdominal area which disables the patient to do normal day to day jobs.
  • Loss of appetite and vomiting: There is a loss in appetite as other symptoms are overpowered. There can be vomiting as well owing to the same reason. In some patients, slight blood can be seen along with vomiting. If the blood is more, urgent help should be taken from medical professionals.
  • Irritability: Irritability, confusion, and disorientation are also some of the symptoms seen in patients with Jaundice.
  • Diagnosis

    Jaundice usually makes it easy to detect itself. But in some cases, the discoloration of the skin and other body parts isn't as prominent to be noticed by a lay man. Moreover, there can be other reasons which can lead to yellowing eyes and skin. So, it is best left to specialist doctors to do a thorough check-up to confirm if it is Jaundice. The diagnosis includes the following:

  • Questions by the doctor regarding symptoms and medical history of the patient.
  • The doctor then does a physical examination.
  • A series of blood tests or a single one can be advised by the doctor based on the findings of the physical examination. These blood tests are important not only to confirm Jaundice but to differentiate it from other diseases with the same symptoms. It is thus essential to make sure correct treatment is followed after diagnosis.
  • Imaging tests can also be recommended in some cases.
  • Treatment

    Once the diagnosis is done, the treatment starts. It is often heard and read that Jaundice needs no treatment. It is both right and wrong. Even though Jaundice itself has no approved medicine as of now, it is very much important to consult a doctor in order to mitigate the symptoms. It is obviously the symptoms which cause the discomfort therefore the doctor will prescribe medicines to

  • Bring the fever down
  • Get some relief from pain
  • Get the energy back as there is a lot of weakness involved due to lack of nutrients.
  • A proper diet is a vital part of the treatment plan. There are a lot of things that in fact aggravate the situation. It is thus imperative to follow the diet your doctor prescribes. It generally includes food that is light to the stomach and doesn't have many spices and oil.

    The above is for patients with mild Jaundice with no underlying diseases along with Jaundice. For patients with severe Jaundice and other disorders, Doctors have to follow a more elaborate plan. Firstly, the focus is to tone down the discomfort and get the symptoms mitigated. After that, other tests might be required to detect what damage the Jaundice has done. Liver functioning is one of the main concerns of doctors as it is crucial to make sure that much damage isn't done to the liver. The cause of the disease is also an essential factor while treating it. For example, if the reason for Jaundice is the blockage of the bile duct, treatment is to be done as per it.


    So, even if it seems to be alright and mild, it is not recommended to treat Jaundice on your own with self-medication as it has severe repercussions on your health. It is strictly recommended to consult a physician as soon as the first symptoms show up.