Jaundice is a condition, which can be easily predictable by its symptoms of yellowed skin and sclera (whiteness of the eyes). It causes because of excessive collection of bilirubin in the body. Jaundice is also known as icterus. Icterus is a name used to explain a yellowish shade to the skin and sclera that is caused due to accumulation of excess bilirubin in the blood (known as hyperbilirubinemia). In case of jaundice body fluids also become yellow. The skin color and sclera fluctuate depending on levels of bilirubin; slightly high levels of bilirubin display yellow skin and sclera, whereas highly increased levels of bilirubin display brown color.
Bilirubin is a yellow colored material, which is responsible for the yellow color of the skin and sclera. Bilirubin is a waste material that stays in the bloodstream after the iron is detached from the hemoglobin, which is free from the degradation of erythrocytes. When there is surplus of bilirubin collected in blood it may leak out into nearby tissues, saturating them with this yellow material.
Jaundice is common in infants. It is generally easy to spot as the baby’s skin turn to yellow color. In most cases of jaundice, it is not harmful to baby. It generally shows up in the baby’s first 3 to 5 days of life. Then it vanishes as the baby’s body find out how to deal with bilirubin. However, in some circumstances, there is too much bilirubin in a baby’s blood that can be injurious. If bilirubin level becomes very high, it may affect baby’s brain cells and may cause the baby to be less active.
There are three major category of jaundice:
This form of jaundice occurs due to liver disease or injury.
This form of jaundice occurs as a result of an accelerated collapse of red blood cells (known as of hemolysis). Due to this coolapse there is an increase in production of bilirubin.
This form of jaundice occurs as a result of a barrier in the bile duct, which prevents bilirubin from leaving the liver.