Jaundice refers to a condition that occurs when there is too much of a substance called bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-orange substance in the red blood cells, and if the liver is not able to filter it out when red blood cells die, bilirubin can build up in the bloodstream. The buildup of bilirubin results in jaundice, which can cause the skin to look yellow. Jaundice suggests that there may be something wrong with the liver, gallbladder, or blood.
What causes jaundice?
Jaundice can be the result of several underlying health conditions, including hepatitis, which is usually caused by a virus and damages the liver. Some medications, like steroids, birth control pills, and acetaminophen can cause liver problems and jaundice. Alcohol-related liver disease, pancreatic cancer, and blocked bile ducts can also cause jaundice.
How is jaundice diagnosed?
A doctor will conduct a blood test to detect jaundice. If you have jaundice, a blood test will show high bilirubin levels. Your doctor may also conduct liver functioning tests.
How is jaundice treated?
If jaundice is due to hepatitis, it will go away on its own after the hepatitis resolves. Typically, a doctor doesn’t treat jaundice itself but rather addresses the underlying issue causing jaundice. For instance, if you have a blocked bile duct, your doctor may complete a surgery to treat the blocked duct, which will resolve the jaundice. If jaundice is due to alcohol-related liver disease, you may receive treatment to help you stop drinking.
- “I actually didn’t have any symptoms of jaundice. I discovered it accidentally when my bilirubin levels tested high during routine blood work.”
- “My skin started to appear yellow, and I also had stomach pain and dark-colored urine.”
- “In addition to a change in my skin color, I experienced weight loss and itchy skin.”