Jaundice can be life threatening. Learn about the signs and what you should do.
Jaundice is a common medical condition in babies but it can also affect children and adults. It usually shows up as a yellowish discolouration of the skin, eyes and the mucus membranes (inside of the mouth) caused by high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a pigment produced by the breakdown of haemoglobin from red blood cells circulating in the blood. In a normal, healthy body, bilirubin is removed from the blood by the liver.
Usually, jaundice in newborn babies or neonatal jaundice will clear without treatment. However, in adults, jaundice is a more serious problem, indicating a bile duct obstruction and liver damage or inflammation. Treating jaundice will depend on what’s causing it. But if the cause of the jaundice is not treated, there is a danger of liver failure.
What causes jaundice?
There are many reasons why your child or you develop jaundice. These are just some of the causes:
What should you look out for
How is jaundice diagnosed?
If you suspect you or your child have jaundice, see a doctor immediately Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and run the following tests:
Your doctor will decide on the treatment of jaundice based on your test results. For example, if the jaundice is caused by a gallstone blocking the bile duct, the treatment will be removing the cause of the obstruction.
Health Promotion Board