Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition which causes discolouration of skin, mucous membranes and whites of the eyes. It mainly occurs due to increased amount of bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is an underlying cause of many diseases. One often suffers from this condition in case of liver diseases like hepatitis or liver cancer.

Neonatal jaundice:
Neonatal jaundice is yellowing of skin and other tissues in a newborn baby. The bilirubin level is likely to rise in newborn infants as their liver is not mature to remove it from the blood. It is a common condition, wherein 50-60% kids suffer during the first few week after their birth.

Signs of neonatal jaundice:

  • High pitched crying
  • Lethargy
  • Poor feeding
  • Seizures
  • Change in muscle tone

Signs & symptoms:
The various signs and symptoms of jaundice are:

  • The bilirubin levels are likely to rise.
  • Change in colour of eyes (conjunctiva – the white part of the eyes) is one of the first visible symptoms of jaundice. The white part of the eye will change to yellow.
  • The skin too may look yellow.
  • Pale or light coloured stool.
  • The colour of the urine will be dark yellow or brown.
  • Itching of skin

However, if the jaundice is due to some underlying disease in progress, it may have additional symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Swelling

Causes:

  • Pre-hepatic (when the bile is made in the liver): Jaundice is caused by rapid increase in the breakdown and destruction of the red blood cells.
  • Hepatic (the problem takes place within the liver): Here, the liver is unable or incapable or proper metabolism and excrete bilirubin.
  • Post-hepatic (after bile has been made in liver): Here, the main cause is interruption of normal drainage of conjugated bilirubin in the form of bile from liver into intestines.  

Special diet to be taken during jaundice:
Jaundice, if diagnosed at an early stage, can soon be cured with proper, nutritious diet and right kind of exercises. Hence, during this time, it is highly important to pay attention to your diet chart and food intake. So, the doctors may suggest you to take ‘jaundice diet’ for the next few week. Dr Health gives you a brief on ‘jaundice diet’, which may help you to recover fast.

  • Intake of fluid, especially in the form of juices – orange, grapes, sugar-cane, lemon, carrot, beet is very important for patients
  • A full-fruit diet for initial 3 to 5 days can prove good for a quick recovery. Apple, pineapple, orange, pears, papaya, mango, etc. However, avoid eating bananas.
  • Your meal should include a bowl of raw vegetables (salad), and par boiled vegetables like spinach, carrot, fenugreek, accompanied by a glass of buttermilk.
  • Barley water and coconut water too, is good for your liver, and hence you can have it on regular basis.
  • Include a bowl of hot, strained soup in dinner with boiled and mashed potatoes.
  • Try to include a glass of skimmed milk during the day time, or have it before going to bed.

Foods to be avoided: Fried, fatty and spicy food, meat, butter, drinks like tea and coffee, spices and condiments, pulses and pickles.

Diagnosis:
For diagnosing the cause behind jaundice the doctor may ask about your medical history. He may also ask you to get done whole body check-up or physical examination which may include blood tests, ultrasonography, MRI, CT scan, endoscopy and liver biopsy.

Treatment:
Usually, jaundice is treated after knowing the underlying cause of the condition. The patient may or may not be hospitalised.

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