Jaundice is not a disease but rather a sign that can occur in many different diseases. Jaundice is the yellowish staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) that is caused by high levels in blood of the chemical bilirubin. The color of the skin and sclerae vary depending on the level of bilirubin. When the bilirubin level is mildly elevated, they are yellowish. When the bilirubin level is high, they tend to be brown.
Causes of Jaundice
In the human body, new blood is being made all the time and old blood is being destroyed. One of the products of destroyed blood is called bilirubin. Bilirubin normally goes to the liver to be processed and then leaves the body in the poo. For the first few days after birth your baby's liver does not work as well as it does later, so there tends to be a build-up of bilirubin in the blood.
Jaundice Causing Problems
Jaundice is only a symptom to more serious ailments. Jaundice or cholestasis causes other problems other than the yellowing of the skin and the sclera of the eye. The stool could also become pale in color when bilirubin is absent or become too brownish because of too much bilirubin. The urine is also affected as its color could also become dark yellow or brownish.
Jaundice, other than the coloring, is frequently associated with itching called pruritus. This condition can sometimes become severe that the patient could not scratch their skin. Others could have trouble sleeping. When the jaundice is caused by liver disease, the patient could experience fatigue, swelling of ankles, muscle wasting, fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity, bleeding in to intestine and worse, coma. When the blockage of the bile ducts is causing the jaundice, it can be concluded that there is not bile entering the intestine. Bile is necessary in the digestion of fat and releasing vitamins within the small intestines.
Treatment of Jaundice
Since jaundice is a symptom, not a specific disorder, treatment for it depends on its cause. This can range from the removal of gallstones or tumors to antibiotics to treat infections, to liver transplant in cases where the liver is severely damaged. However, for conditions like cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis, which are lifelong problems, jaundice may be permanent or recurring.
Exchange blood transfusion. Rarely, when severe jaundice doesn't respond to other treatments, a baby may need an exchange transfusion of blood. This involves repeatedly withdrawing small amounts of blood, "diluting out" the bilirubin and maternal antibodies, and then transferring blood back into the baby — a procedure that's performed in a newborn intensive care unit.
Jaundice in newborns must be treated if it becomes severe as deposits can cause permanent brain damage. In all other cases, it is not the jaundice that needs to be treated but the underlying condition. When/if the condition resolves, then the jaundice will resolve as well. If an obstruction is present, surgery may be necessary.
Tomatoes are valuable in treating jaundice. A glass of fresh tomato juice mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, taken early in the morning, is considered an effective remedy for this disease.
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