Jaundice is a term used to describe the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Jaundice is often seen in liver disease such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It indicates obstruction of the biliary tract, for example in gallstones or pancreatic cancer. Jaundice can also occur as a result of any condition or disorder that disrupts the functions of the liver, such as sickle cell anemia, Gilbert’s syndrome or cirrhosis.
Blood is made up of hemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs last for only about 120 days, after which they become fragile and are broken down into parts of the body such as the spleen. Among other things formed from the old hemoglobin is bilirubin. This is transported to the liver where a series of biochemical processes occurs before it winds up being excreted as bile. There are several ways that a build- up can occur:
If red blood cells broke down too early, the spleen gets overloaded and hence too much bilirubin is produced to be handled by the liver. Unprocessed bilirubin accumulates in the bloodstream and eventually the skin and eyes looks yellow. This condition is called hemolytic anemia. At times this condition is inherited. Hemolytic anemia may also occur as a side-effect of certain drugs.
Sometimes the trouble is in the liver cells. If there is a faulty uptake, processing or excretion of bilirubin which result in an accumulation of RBC's in the bloodstream. Newborn babies can be temporarily jaundiced because of lack of mature enzymes needed to process bilirubin. In adults, alcoholism is a common cause of damage to liver cells. Other toxins and certain drugs can also cause acute damage to the liver.
- PUBLISHED DATE : Apr 06, 2015
- PUBLISHED BY : NHP CC DC
- CREATED / VALIDATED BY : NHP Admin
- LAST UPDATED BY : Apr 07, 2015
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