Jaundice: Definition and Causes
Jaundice is a yellowing of skin and eyes caused by an excess of bilirubin in the body. It is a very common condition that often affects newborns and can be seen in adults as well. Here, we’ll take a look at what exactly jaundice is, the causes of jaundice, and potential treatments.
What is Jaundice?
Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to the presence of elevated levels of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that’s produced primarily by the decomposition of red blood cells. When the levels of bilirubin, which is normally produced by the liver, rise too high, it accumulates in the skin, causing a yellowish discoloration.
What Causes Jaundice?
The primary cause of jaundice is an elevated level of bilirubin in the blood, either due to increased production of it or decreased clearances.
- Increased production of bilirubin – In this case, high levels of bilirubin are usually caused by rapid breakdown of red blood cells due to certain genetic disorders, infections or diseases. In newborns, an immature liver is often the cause.
- Decreased clearances of bilirubin – High bilirubin levels may also be caused by an obstruction that prevents the liver from efficiently removing it, such as gallstones, tumors or a viral infection.
Treatments and Prevention
Treatments for jaundice primarily involve efforts to remove the excess amount of bilirubin from the body. Depending on the cause, this may be done through medications or dialysis.
Prevention efforts include regular check-ups and vaccinations to protect against infections that may lead to the rapid breakdown of red blood cells, which in turn can lead to jaundice. Additionally, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is an important preventive measure.
The Bottom Line
Jaundice is a relatively common yellowing of skin and eyes caused by an excess of bilirubin in the body. It is most often seen in newborns and can be caused by conditions such as genetic disorders, infections, and diseases, as well as an obstruction in the liver that prevents it from clearing bilirubin efficiently. Treatments and preventions focus on removing the excess bilirubin, either through medication or dialysis, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle to increase your child’s chance of avoiding jaundice.
Keywords: jaundice, definition, causes, treatments, prevention, bilirubin, blood, genetic disorder, infection, healthy lifestyle.