What causes jaundice (jaundice)?


Jaundice (or jaundice) is a yellow color to the skin and the whites of the eyes. It is often a sign of liver disease (cirrhosis, hepatitis). What are the other reasons? Warning symptoms? in adults? the baby? When do you worry?

a jaundice (also called jaundice) is defined by The whites of the eyes that turn yellow and yellow skin. translate a Too much bilirubin (a yellow pigment caused by the degradation of hemoglobin) in the blood, which is a sign of liver diseases such as cirrhosis where Lever Inflammation for example. If you have a pale white or yellow eye color, or a slightly yellow complexion, you probably have it Bilirubin blood test. Elevated bilirubin may reflect impaired liver function. what is it The cause of jaundice ? who are they Suggestive symptoms ? In the“Adult ? the child ? When do you worry? How do you treat it quickly? Explanations from our liver experts.

Definition: What is jaundice?

Jaundice or jaundice is Yellow discoloration of the mucous membranes, skin and conjunctiva (white of the eye)Professor Victor de Ledjean, hepatologist at Purdue University Hospital, explains from the very beginning.During a liver problem: the liver shrinks and no longer functions normally, this is called Cirrhosis. and when operating at less than 50% of its capacity, It is no longer able to get rid of all of the bilirubin (found yellow pigment in bile) Which ends up accumulating in the blood, hence the color of the eyes and skinAdds Professor Patrick Marcellin, Hepatologist.

Diagram of jaundice © normaals-123RF/Women’s Health Journal

What causes jaundice in adults?

In adults, the causes of jaundice can be several:

► single Liver disease : Lever Inflammation (sometimes narcotic or alcoholic hepatitis), Cirrhosis

Presence gallstones

Tumor of the liver or pancreas (jaundice). conjugated bilirubin)

Obstruction of bile flow (biliary tract obstruction …)

► the Gilbert’s diseaseAnd “And it is actually not a disease but an enzyme abnormality. It corresponds to the absence of an enzyme: this affects 10% of the population, and can cause very temporary and insignificant bouts of jaundice.”Adds Professor de Lidjean (free bilirubin jaundice).

► single Toxic reaction to the drug or medicinal plant

What causes jaundice in children?

Newborns can also develop jaundice in the first weeks of life. It’s very trivialsafe, and heal on their own, possibly by placing them under ultraviolet lightProfessor de Ledjen explains. In a completely exceptional way, jaundice can be associated with a genetic disease“. Cholestatic jaundice It is a form of jaundice in newborns: the liver is not yet mature enough to get rid of bilirubin, hence it passes into the blood and abnormally high rates.

What are the symptoms of jaundice?

During jaundice, we can notice the following:

  • a Yellow color (the main sign of jaundice). It can affect the skin and mucous membranes (the walls lining the inside of certain organs) of the mouth or the genitals and the conjunctiva, which corresponds to the whites of the eyes (conjunctival jaundice). This is often the last location The first to appearor even the only one that is frankly visible, especially in dark-skinned people.
  • tiredness and itching;
  • Bad taste in the mouth that leads to food disgust
  • Fever may be present
  • Abdominal pain is possible

Is that bad? fatal?

Jaundice is impressive but in most cases jaundice is not dangerous if managed properly. Among the (rare) complications related to an elevated bilirubin level are:

  • seizures
  • deafness
  • cerebral palsy
  • growth retardation…

When do you worry about jaundice?

You should consult first general practice Who, after making a complete diagnosis, will offer appropriate treatment or refer the patient to a hepatologist.

During the diagnosis, the doctor first performs a blood test to measure the level of bilirubin, Professor de Ledjen explains. The rate is usually included between 0 and 17. When you get to 30 or 40, the eyes mainly turn yellow. The next examination, if jaundice is confirmed, is Abdominal ultrasound“, adds the hepatologist. And it is this that will determine the main cause of jaundice: Obstruction of bile flow, or liver disease.

Is jaundice contagious?

Jaundice is not contagious because it is a symptom, not a disease.

neonatal jaundice It can be treated with light. The baby, naked with his eyes protected by goggles, is placed in a special incubator, under pressurized fluorescent tubes that emit blue light.

in adultsThe treatment for jaundice is to treat its cause. “If there is an obstruction to the flow of bile, it will be necessary to remove it, and if it is a disease of the liver, it will be necessary to seek recognition and treatment of it. Until the cause is treated, jaundice will not go awayProfessor de Ledjen concludes

Thanks to Professor Victor de Ledjean, Hepatologist, Department of Hepatology, Gastroenterology and Oncology of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Purdue University Hospital, and Professor Patrick Marcellin, Hepatologist.


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