Jaundice is a symptom that might determine a liver, blood or gallbladder problem. The skin and the white portions of the eye turn yellow and most often newborn babies get it, but adults can have this too which adds up to some more serious health issues of the liver.
Causes of Jaundice
This happens when the body does not process bilirubin properly. When there is too much bilirubin in your blood and the liver fails to process them adequately, it causes the skin to look yellow.
Jaundice can develop due to any of these health conditions:
Hepatitis – This infection is caused by a virus and can be transmitted through shared needles, sexual contact and contaminated water. If a person has been living with hepatitis for more than 6 months, it can damage the liver and cause jaundice.
Alcohol-related liver disease – If you have been consuming excess alcohol over a period of 8-10 years, it might damage your liver seriously leading to alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. This might impair the liver’s ability to secrete bilirubin well.
Hemolytic Anaemia – In this condition, large quantities of RBCs are broken down leading to an increase in the production of bilirubin.
Blocked bile ducts – Health diseases like cancer, gallstones or rare liver disease may block the bile ducts from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. In such cases, you can get jaundice. Pancreatic cancer can also block the bile duct that causes jaundice.
Some medications – Birth control pills, steroids, and penicillin have also been linked to liver diseases that may lead to jaundice.
Treatment of Jaundice
When adults get jaundice, the disease itself is not treated but the condition leading to jaundice is treated. Like if your jaundice is due to hepatitis, the medications to heal the liver will get rid of jaundice gradually. Similarly, if you have a blocked duct, a surgical procedure to open the duct will also heal jaundice.
Is Jaundice contagious?
If jaundice is caused due to hepatitis, it is highly contagious if you stay in contact with that person, otherwise, jaundice is not contagious.
Diet in Jaundice
Your diet plays a very important role when you have jaundice.
Here are some quick tips on what you must add to your diet and what you must cut back on:
Your diet should include
- Herbal tea, water, and other healthy fluids
- Milk thistle
- Fruits like mango and papaya
- 3 cups veggies and 2 cups fruits daily
- High-fiber foods like oatmeal, berries, and almonds
Your diet must cut back on
- Red meat like beef and pork that has saturated fats
- Fried foods
- Refined sugar
- Processed and canned food
Infant Jaundice: Is it serious?
Infant jaundice or neonatal jaundice as it is called is unavoidable and is not to be worried about in most of the cases. Although it might be a scary sight for parents to see their newborns with a sickly yellowish hue on palms, soles of feet and eyes, it cannot be prevented. Paediatric gastroenterologist Naim Alkhouri says that neonatal jaundice is common and does not require any treatment. It can stay for the first two weeks after birth and then resolve on its own.