Jaundice

Jaundice is a medical ailment that causes yellow discolouration of the patient’s skin and mucous membranes. It also elevates the bilirubin level in the blood, causing the eyes to turn yellow. While newborn babies are commonly affected, in adults jaundice is mainly caused by a series of medical conditions, of which some are serious and even potentially life threatening.

What Causes Jaundice In Newborn & Adults?

Some of the common factors that lead to this medical condition in infants and grown-ups include:

  • Hyperbilirubinemia or excess bilirubin in the blood (usually happens in newborns as their liver is often undeveloped to quickly remove bilirubin)
  • Disruption in the normal metabolism

In some cases, jaundice can be possibly caused by factors, such as:

  • Infection
  • Dysfunction of digestive system
  • Rh incompatibility between baby’s and mother’s blood types (Hemolytic jaundice)
  • Blockage in the bile ducts
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Hepatitis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Drug abuse
  • Liver tumours
  • Gallstones and bile duct stones

What Are The Common Symptoms of Jaundice?

Jaundice is the underlying symptom of various diseases. It is frequently accompanied by:

  • Yellow stools
  • Pale-skin color
  • Urine discoloration
  • Skin itching
  • Vomiting & nausea
  • Diarrhoea and rectal bleeding
  • Fever, cold chills, and weakness
  • Abrupt weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain, headache, and swelling of legs

How Is Jaundice Examination?

Physical Examination and Medical History: Your doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical exam to check for any signs and symptoms of disease.

Liver function test (LFT): A complete liver profile can be measured in a patient’s blood. A bilirubin test is included in LFT to measure the bilirubin level in the patient’s blood. A higher amount of bilirubin indicates jaundice.

Full Blood Count or FBC Test: This can be used to distinguish between some of the causes of jaundice, such as hemolytic jaundice.

What Are the Treatments for Jaundice?

Medications: Your doctor may suggest medications to treat the causes of jaundice and associated symptoms. As examples, antiviral therapy for hepatitis and medication to treat cholestasis may be prescribed.

Phototherapy or Light Therapy: In Infants, jaundice is treated by placing the babies under special blue-green lighting environment to change the structure and shape of bilirubin molecules so that they can be easily excreted through stool and urine.

Lifestyle Changes: Alcohol cessation and discontinuation of certain drugs may lessen jaundice.

Endoscopic Procedures: Gallstones and bile duct stones are amongst the more common causes of acute jaundice in adults in Singapore. The presence of gallstones or bile duct stones is confirmed with ultrasound or CT imaging. Stones in the bile duct can be removed by endoscopy, avoiding the need for open surgery.

Laparoscopic Procedures: Gallstone disease causing jaundice will require gallbladder surgery. This is best done by laparoscopic “keyhole” surgery, avoiding the need for open surgery. With new developments in surgical technology, we can also perform major liver and pancreatic surgery with laparoscopic surgery, avoiding large abdominal scars.

Know more about the treatment options for jaundice; make an appointment with us today!