First of all, we should all know that jaundice is not a disease. However, we can consider it as a sign that can be observed in various kinds of diseases. During jaundice, you will notice yellowish pigmentation on your skin and in the white areas of your eyes. It is mainly caused because of the increased release of a body chemical called bilirubin.
The level of pigmentation depends on the level of bilirubin. Your skin will appear yellowish when there is moderate release of bilirubin whereas when there is high release of bilirubin, your skin will appear brown. The level of bilirubin in our blood plasma should not be higher than 1mg/dL. If it is more than 1.8 mg/dL, the pigmentation of your skin will change to yellow, leading to jaundice.
Causes of Jaundice
There are two main functions of liver. The production of yellowish brown colored fluid called bile which facilitates the digestion of dietary fat is one important function of the liver. The other significant function is to get rid of waste materials like bilirubin from our blood. In the liver, bilirubin combines with bile and leaves our body in the form of faeces and urine. If this process is disturbed because of some infection or damage, jaundice can take place.
Signs and Symptoms
When the levels of bilirubin increase, the formation of yellow color over the white of the eye is one of the first changes that take place. Various areas of the body, especially palms and soles will be pigmented with yellow color. Stools will appear pale and the color of the urine will appear dark yellow.
The symptoms also depend on the cause. If a person gets infected by malaria before jaundice, he can suffer from symptoms related to malaria such as shivering, high fever and headache.
How to Diagnose
Your doctor will suggest you to undergo jaundice diagnosis only if he notices yellow coloration of skin and eyes. The doctor will physically examine the liver to see if there is any swelling or cirrhosis. It can also be confirmed through urine test. You may also be asked to undergo other tests like blood tests and liver function test.
Prevention and Treatment
Since there are manifold reasons that can cause jaundice, it is very difficult to mention what you should do and avoid in order to prevent it. Since it is not a disease by itself, prevention of the disease that causes it is the only way to prevent it. Everything that can affect the proper functioning of the liver such as alcohol intake should be moderated.
For treating jaundice, doctors will advise medicine that can treat the underlying cause. If there is blockage in the bile duct system, doctor can suggest getting the gallstone removed. If the liver has been damaged considerably, the patient may even be required to undergo liver transplant.