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•  Causes and consequences of jaundice

Jaundice is a condition caused by an excess of bile pigment – bilirubin – within the body

  • Bilirubin is produced as part of the natural breakdown of haemoglobin by the liver
  • Normally, the liver conjugates this bilirubin to other chemicals and then secretes it in bile
  • When there is an excess of bilirubin, it may leak out into surrounding tissue fluids

Jaundice may be caused by any condition which impairs the natural breakdown of red blood cells, including:

  • Liver disease – impaired removal of bilirubin by the liver may cause levels to build within the body
  • Obstruction of the gall bladder – preventing the secretion of bile will cause bilirubin levels to accumulate
  • Damage to red blood cells – increased destruction of erythrocytes (e.g. anemia) will cause bilirubin levels to rise

The main consequence of jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes (sclera)

  • Other common symptoms include itchiness, paler than usual stools and darkened urine

Jaundice may be resolved by treating the underlying cause for the build up of bilirubin within the body

Common Symptoms of Jaundice