Jaundice – Causes, Symptoms and General Care

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The patient with jaundice (yellow eyes)

The patient with jaundice (yellow eyes)

What is Jaundice and How is it Caused?

Jaundice is caused due to the accumulation of Bilirubin, the yellow coloured pigment in the blood and tissues.

Formation of Bilirubin:

Bilirubin is formed from the haemoglobin of old and worn out red blood cells when they are destroyed in the liver. Hepatocytes secrete the bilirubin into the bile fluid. This bile flows from the liver into the gall bladder, where it is concentrated and stored.

Bile is secreted into the duodenum during digestion because it is necessary for the emulsification and digestion of lipids in the intestine. Bilirubin is absorbed into the blood from the small intestine along with the digested food. From the blood it is excreted by the kidneys through urine. The yellow colour of the urine is because of the presence of bilirubin an its metabolites.

Jaundice occurs due to :

1. Excessive production of bilirubin occurs in some diseases due to destruction of large number of erythrocytes in the liver.

2. Obstruction to the flow of bile may occur when bile flows from liver to gall bladder or from gall bladder to intestine. This occurs when stones are formed in the gall bladder.

3. Improper functioning or death of liver cells occur when a person is infected with hepatitis virus.

There are several types of hepatitis viruses like Hepatitis-A, Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-D, Hepatitis-E, Hepatitis-F and Hepatitis-G. Hepatitis virus affects many millions of people all over the world.

The virus is transmitted from mother to child during child birth in infants. This virus is transmitted through food, water and milk. It is also transmitted through blood transfusion or when same syringe is used for injecting large number of patients. Most of the population in our country are the carriers of hepatitis virus. This hepatitis virus damages the liver cells. When food contaminated with hepatotoxins is taken, it leads to improper functioning of liver cells. Drugs, contaminated foods, improper nutrition and drinking alcohol damages liver cells.

Symptoms : The following symptoms are seen in patients with Jaundice :

  • White colour of the eye turns yellow.
  • Skin colour changes to yellow.
  • Urine also becomes yellow.
  • Patient suffers from lack of appetite, flatulence and constipation.
  • Liver will be tender in that region.
  • Bilirubin levels will increase in the blood.

There is no specific treatment for Jaundice, care should be taken by the patient.

The general care to be taken by jaundice patients :

  • Patient should take strict bed rest.
  • Patient must be under constant supervision of the doctor.
  • The things used by the patients should be kept separate from others and washed separately.
  • Small quantity of food should be given at intervals.
  • Plenty of fluids, fruit juices, glucose and maltose should be included in the food.
  • Food such as rice, bread which are rich in calories should be given.
  • Tea, coffee, spices and fried foods should not be given.
  • The donor’s blood must be tested for the presence of hepatitis virus before giving blood transfusion.
  • The syringes and needles should be changed for every injection.

Hepatitis vaccine is available at low cost and massive immunisation programmes are being conducted all over the state.

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