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JAUNDICE TREATMENT

Also known as icterus or unconjugated hyperbilirubinaemia, jaundice is a yellowish skin discolouration caused due to high bilirubin levels in the blood and extracellular fluids. Jaundice by itself may not be a disease but is indicative of biliary obstruction or leptospirosis. When dead red blood cells break down in the liver, a yellow pigment is formed which is bilirubin. The liver fails to metabolize bilirubin the normal way, which causes a breakdown of old red blood cells giving rise to bilirubin. Subsequently, the bilirubin cannot lead itself to the digestive tract to be released through the stool. At this time, excessive bilirubin enters the liver, and there are too may red blood cells dying all at the same time.

Causes

  • Liver infection

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Cirrhosis

  • Liver cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Gallstones

  • Hepatitis

  • Liver parasites

  • Adverse reaction to medication

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptoms of jaundice:

  • Yellow discolouration of the skin

  • Dark-coloured urine

  • The conjunctiva of the eyes is discoloured known as sclera icterus

  • Excessive fatigue

  • Vomiting

Categories

There are three categories of jaundice:

Prehepatic: Typically increased haemolysis or the breakdown of the heme pigment is the cause of prehepaticular jaundice.

Hepatocellular: Also known as hepatic jaundice it is caused due to hepatotoxicity, cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease. The liver loses its ability to metabolize and flush out bilirubin due to cell necrosis.

Posthepatic: This is called obstructive jaundice usually caused when drainage of bile is interrupted due to gallstones, pancreatic cancer and liver flukes.

Diagnosis

Physical examination: The patient is examined for:

  • Flu-like symptoms before jaundice indicative of hepatitis

  • Abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

  • Itchy skin

  • Travel – to a country with widespread malaria and hepatitis A

  • Change of colour in urine

  • Colour change in stool

  • History of alcohol abuse

  • Ingestion of drugs

  • Occupational hazards – exposure to jaundice

  • Swelling of legs

  • Swelling in the liver

Blood tests:

  • Liver function test: This is done to detect hepatitis, cirrhosis and alcoholic liver disease. It measures the levels of enzymes and proteins along with identification for malaria and hepatitis C.

Imaging tests:

  • Ultrasound scan

  • CT or computerized tomography scan

  • MRI or magnetic resonance imaging

  • ERCP or Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Liver biopsy

A fine needle is inserted into the area to extract a sample of the liver cells to be examined under the microscope.

Treatment and Medication

Pharmacological treatment for jaundice may include anticonvulsants such as Phenobarbital, which increases the excretion and conjugation of bilirubin. Lipid-lowering agents such as Fenofibrate lower the levels of serum triglycerides and VLDL levels.

Dr. Deepak offers effective consultations for both symptomatic and asymptomatic jaundice. The course of treatment is well-planned and managed by him and his team of doctors.

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