Jaundice or Icterus is a disease that turns the skin and whites of the eyes yellow. Jaundice is caused by the growth of a substance called Bilirubin in both blood and tissues of the body. Anyone can get this disease; even the newborn babies also get it. What Causes Jaundice? is now the general question that rises to your mind. Hence, read the complete article to know Jaundice Causes in Adults, Children and Neonatal Jaundice.
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The Old Red blood cells travel to our liver, where they were broken down. Bilirubin is the yellow pigment formed by the breakdown of these dead red blood cells. The Liver filters those cells from the bloodstream. But if something was wrong with your liver that it couldn’t filter, then the bilirubin amount increases and can cause your skin to look yellow. In medical terms, excess buildups of bilirubin are called Hyperbilirubinemia. Jaundice occurs when your liver doesn’t metabolize the bilirubin in the way it’s supposed to. Jaundice is not a disease, but it becomes a symptom of several possible underlying illnesses.
What is Bilirubin?
Bilirubin is a waste product that remains in the bloodstream after the iron is removed from the hemoglobin. It is released from the degradation of erythrocytes. When there is an excess amount of bilirubin, it may leak out into surrounding tissues, saturating them with this yellow substance. Once it remains in the liver, other chemicals latch on to it, thus creating a substance called conjugated bilirubin, which is secreted in bile and then excreted. Bilirubin is what gives feces its brown color. One thing we should know about bilirubin is that what level of Bilirubin causes Jaundice? Jaundice occurs when the bilirubin level in the blood exceeds 2.5 to 3 mg/dL. Hence Jaundice is caused by the buildups of Bilirubin. Also, it is a serious problem with the function of our RBC, Liver, Gallbladder, or Pancreas.
Types of Yellow Jaundice
The main symptoms of Jaundice are yellow tinted skin and eyes. In most severe cases, the whites of our eyes may turn to orange or brown colored. Also, Jaundice symptoms are dark urine and pale stools. Suppose you have only yellow skin, it doesn’t mean that you have jaundice. It may occur due to having too much beta-carotene (antioxidant) in our system. An excess amount of Beta Carotene is not a cause of Jaundice. There are three types of Jaundice depending on what’s disrupting the natural removal of bilirubin from the body. These kinds don’t indicate the stages and do not mean that the succeeding type is more dangerous than the previous one, but only indicates when was the jaundice has occurred, i.e., before, after, or while the liver is converting insoluble bilirubin to a soluble one. One should be aware of these types and Causes of Jaundice.
Pre-hepatic or Hemolytic jaundice
This Pre-hepatic type of jaundice occurs as a result of hemolysis, i.e., the breakdown of red blood cells which leads to increase in the bilirubin production.
Intra-hepatic or Hepatocellular jaundice
Intra-hepatic jaundice occurs as a result of liver disease or injury. Under this condition, the liver cells are impaired, or the liver is experiencing an inflammation, which affects the functioning. Then it cannot process the bilirubin, which increases in number and results in jaundice.
Post-hepatic or obstructive jaundice
Under this type, the bilirubin is processed correctly by the liver and becomes soluble, but due to a blockage, it cannot travel through the intestines. As a result, the bilirubin resides in the liver and cannot be excreted.
What are the Causes of Jaundice?
Yellow Jaundice is associated with conditions of the liver or the gallbladder. It occurs when the skin, sclera, and mucous membranes turn yellow. In Adults, Jaundice is caused by various medical conditions that affect the normal metabolism or excretion of bilirubin. Whereas in Newborn or Premature babies, Jaundice generally disappears within days, but some children require phototherapy treatment. So, Let’s have a look at these Causes of Jaundice in Adults.
Prehepatic Jaundice Causes
- Malaria: Jaundice causes malaria, a blood-borne infection that was spread by the mosquitoes.
- Sickle cell anemia: Under this condition, the Red blood cells develop abnormally.
- Hereditary spherocytosis: The Hereditary spherocytosis is also a cause of jaundice which the shortens the lifespan of the red blood cells than normal.
- Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD).
- Crigler-Najjar Syndrome: This is a genetic syndrome where an enzyme needed to help move bilirubin out of the blood and into the liver is missing.
- Drugs or other toxins.
- Autoimmune disorders.
Hepatic Jaundice Causes
- Hepatitis A, B, and C infections: Hepatitis damages the liver, making it less able to move bilirubin into the bile ducts. Hepatitis may be acute (short-lived) or chronic (lasting at least 6 months) usually caused by a virus. Acute viral hepatitis is a common cause of jaundice; that occurs in young and otherwise healthy people.
- Alcohol Liver disease: Drinking some large amounts of alcohol over an extended period damages the liver. However, the amount of alcohol and time required to cause harm varies.
- Misuse of Drugs or Toxins.
- Glandular Fever: Hepatic Jaundice causes Glandular Fever, a viral infection that was caused by Epstein-Barr virus.
- Gilbert’s syndrome: A common genetic syndrome in which the liver has problems in breaking down bilirubin at a reasonable rate.
- Liver Cancer.
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis.
- Dubin-Johnson syndrome: Yellow Jaundice causes this genetic syndrome. It causes a black liver due to the deposition of a pigment similar to melanin.
Causes of Posthepatic Jaundice
- Gallstones: These are the small organs formed under the liver.
- Pancreatic/ Ball Gladder/ Bile Duct Cancer.
- Cholangitis: It occurs when the duct is blocked by a gallstone or tumor.
- Pancreatitis: It is an inflammation of the pancreas.
- Strictures of the bile ducts.
Some of the causes of jaundice such as hepatitis and gallstones are quite common. Whereas the other Jaundice causes, i.e., Crigler-Najjar syndrome and Dubin-Johnson syndrome are much rarer.
Causes of Neonatal Jaundice
Neonatal Jaundice or Infant jaundice appears on the second or third day of life. An immature liver often cannot remove this bilirubin quickly enough, causing an excess of bilirubin.
The Common Neonatal Jaundice causes are
- An infection in the baby’s blood.
- Internal bleeding.
- Viral or bacterial infections.
- Liver malfunction.
- Deficiency of enzymes.
- An incompatibility between the mother’s blood and the baby’s blood.
- Abnormality of Red Blood Cells.
If your condition becomes severe, see your doctor. Depending upon the cause of your jaundice, doctors will recommend the treatment type. Also, doctors will treat the cause of the jaundice, not the symptoms. Once treatment begins, the yellow skin returns to its normal state.