What is Jaundice?

Jaundice is a condition where the patient starts feeling that his eyes have become yellow, skin and nails have turned yellow and the urine also has turned yellow. Contrary to popular belief, jaundice itself is not a disease but is a symptom of an underlying problem.

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Most commonly jaundice shows up when there is a problem with the liver. Jaundice is caused by excessive build-up of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a chemical which is found in the bile produced by the liver. The bile juice is sent out through the intestines into the motions. If this bilirubin for some reason is not excreted from the body it starts accumulating in the blood and thereby the skin, the urine and the eyes turn yellow.

Build-up of bile in blood is caused by several factors including a malfunctioning liver unable to filter bilirubin in the blood or obstruction of the flow of bile or there is excessive amount of bilirubin in the blood which liver can’t handle.

Liver infections with hepatitis virus is one of the most common causes of jaundice. The second most common being any stone or a blockage in the passage of bile like a gallbladder stone slipping into the bile duct or a small tumour in the bile duct or a tumour in the pancreas which can block the flow of bile. There are also other conditions where there is a defect in the blood which makes the blood break very fast and thereby the amount of bilirubin load given to the liver is too much and the liver cannot handle it.

Treatment for Jaundice

So, if somebody has jaundice the general tendency is to go and start treatment. Many people go to quacks and get some herbal treatment thinking that the jaundice will get cured but it is very important to understand jaundice is only a symptom. The basic reason for jaundice can be a very wide spectrum of causes. 

Some of these causes might need endoscopy like if there is a stone you do an endoscopy clear the stone and the jaundice is cured. Some might need medicines against certain viruses. Some might need surgical treatment like if there is a tumour, it should be removed for the jaundice to clear. So, unless one understands why the patient has got jaundice treatment is meaningless. 

So, jaundice should not be treated as a disease, it should be treated as a sign of an underlying disease and every patient with jaundice has to get himself evaluated properly to find out that exact cause. And after that the treatment becomes very simple.

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