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Jaundice Causes & Symptoms

Jaundice can be described as a condition in which a person's skin takes on a yellowish hue and hence, many people refer to it as yellow jaundice too. Jaundice causes not just discoloration in the skin, but could also cause the white of the eyes to turn slightly yellow in color. Though most people consider jaundice as a serious disease, health experts claim that it is not really a disease, but is actually a symptom which could occur in case of several different diseases. You may wonder how jaundice occurs and you may have even asked your doctor for information on how jaundice is caused. Jaundice causes and jaundice treatment are closely related as it is important to treat the underlying condition in order to eliminate the symptoms.

What Causes Jaundice?

There are three main factors that could be potential yellow jaundice causes.

One of the main jaundice yellow skin causes is the elevated level of a chemical known as bilirubin in the blood. It is also possible for a person to get jaundice in case he or she is suffering from an obstruction in the bile ducts, perhaps due to a gallstone or a tumor. These factors are generally referred to, as obstructive jaundice causes. The third cause of jaundice could be any disease which affects the normal functioning of the liver, like liver failure, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. Based on the different obstructive and acute jaundice causes, the treatment of the condition may differ in children as well as adults. The common factors that lead to jaundice in adults and children may also be different to some extent.

Jaundice Causes In Babies

Infant or neonatal jaundice is very common in newborn babies, especially those who are born before completing 36 weeks of gestation. It is believed that one of the primary neonatal jaundice causes is the fact that a pre-term baby's liver is not fully mature, because of which it cannot get rid of the excessive bilirubin in the bloodstream. However, this could also apply to those babies who are full term - those born on or after the completion of 38 weeks. Nevertheless, in some cases, there could be other jaundice causes in newborns too. Some of the other diseases that are known to trigger off jaundice causes and symptoms in new born babies include:

  • Abnormality of red blood cells in the baby
  • Compatibility problems between the blood of the mother and that of the baby
  • Deficiency of enzymes in the baby's body
  • Hemorrhage, which is internal bleeding
  • Malfunctioning in the liver
  • Presence of certain bacterial or viral infections
  • Sepsis or an infection in the baby's blood

Jaundice In Toddlers Causes

Although jaundice is not as common in toddlers as it is in infants and newborn babies, it is quite possible for toddlers too to suffer from this condition. There are several different underlying problems that could cause the levels of bilirubin in the child to go high, thereby leading to jaundice. Some of the most commonly seen causes of jaundice in toddlers include:

  • Autoimmune or viral hepatitis
  • Inherited disorders such as Gilbert's Syndrome, Rotor Syndrome, Crigler Najjar Syndrome or Dubin Johnson Syndrome which interfere with the way the liver processes bilirubin and gets rid of it
  • Cholestasis
  • Hemolysis

Jaundice Causes In Adults

There are three factors that could lead to jaundice in anyone, which include obstructions in the bile duct, liver problems and high levels of bilirubin in the body. There are several diseases that adults suffer from, which have been known to trigger off jaundice causes in them. Given below are some of the diseases and health conditions which are known to be common jaundice causes, especially in grownups:

  • Alcoholic hepatitis, viral hepatitis, scarring of the liver or Hepatitis B
  • Liver cancer
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Genetic disorders like Rotor's Syndrome and Gilbert's Syndrome to name a few
  • Pregnancy and certain pregnancy related conditions, which could include Preeclampsia, Cholestasis (of pregnancy) and Acute Fatty Liver of Pregnancy (AFLP), to name a few

There is a lot of information on jaundice causes and cures as well as its symptoms which is easily available through several resources, like online websites, health articles, and so on. However, it is absolutely essential to ensure that all instances of jaundice are brought to a doctor's attention immediately. The doctor may need to conduct a few tests to confirm if the problem is indeed jaundice and if it is, then its severity and causes will need to be identified. Doing so will enable the medical health care provider decide what the best course of treatment is. Therefore, it is important for people to consult a doctor, as soon as they notice any of the signs and symptoms of jaundice.

Submitted on January 16, 2014