What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is a symptom that is manifested by the yellow or bronze coloring of the skin and mucous membranes. In its first stage, jaundice is visible in the iris of the eyes. The color is due to the presence of excess bilirubin in the blood, a yellow bile pigment that comes from the degradation of hemoglobin (at the end of the life cycle of red blood cells).
Signs and Symptoms of Jaundice
Symptoms include fever, itching, dark urine and discoloured stools, headache (in the pre-icteric phase), joint pain and digestive disorders.
Causes of Jaundice
Jaundice can be linked to different diseases depending on the type.
- Acute inflammation of the liver
- Obstruction of the bile duct
- Inflammation of the bile duct
- Hemolytic anemia
- Gilbert’s syndrome
Diagnosis of Jaundice
The purpose of the diagnosis is to establish the mechanism involved in the appearance of the symptom and, thus, to be able to determine the cause as well. It is based on a medical history (background, lifestyle) and a clinical and morphological examination (x-rays of the bile ducts, for example). Ultrasound can verify some diagnoses related to jaundice (such as gallstones).
While the blood test allows to highlight the level of unconjugated or free bilirubin (toxic to the brain), the level of conjugated bilirubin (direct) and, associating both values, the total bilirubin level. The collection of these different values allows orienting the diagnosis towards a particular type of jaundice.
Treatment of Jaundice
Phototherapy, practiced in the newborn, consists in exposing it to an intense blue light that, by acting on the skin, tends to eliminate bilirubin more easily. Jaundice is a symptom that evokes many pathologies, so the therapeutic approach depends on the type of jaundice and thus cure the underlying cause.