Blood consists of fluid called plasma and three major types of cells, the red blood cells (RBC), the white blood cells (WBC) and the platelets. The RBC contains haemoglobin, a red coloured molecule responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to different organs in the body. RBCs are continuously being made and broken down by your body. Breakdown of the haemoglobin present in the RBC leads to the formation of a yellow coloured pigment called billirubin. Billirubin is always present in low concentration in the plasma. The billirubin present in the plasma is taken up by the cells in the liver. Here it is attached to different tiny molecules to make it easier to excrete; this form of billirubin is called conjugated billirubin. Conjugated billirubin is excreted from the body in bile.
Jaundiceis a condition in which there is yellowing of the nails, mucous membranes and the eye due to increase in the level of billirubin (either conjugated or non conjugated) in the blood. Jaundice is a symptoms that can accompany a disease.
Jaundice is caused due to increase in level of billirubin in the blood. The increase can be due to:
These conditions cause a rise in levels of unconjugated bilirubin
Jaundice can be acute or chronic. Individuals having acute jaundice may experience
Jaundice is diagnosed with the help of physical examination and other medical tests. During your physical examination, your doctor will look for abnormal spidery blood vessels near the skin surface, redness of palms, and yellowing in the nails and the eyes. Along with these finding your doctor will like to request a few more tests to confirm jaundice and indentify the cause. The tests may be:
Complications faced by individuals being treated for jaundice are:
The treatment of jaundice depends upon the cause. In adults, acute episodes of jaundice resolve on their own most of the times. Greater care has to be taken when neonates are affected by jaundice.