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Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a term used to describe a yellowish tinge to the skin and sclerae (the white part of the eye) which is a result of an excess of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia). Body fluids may also be yellow.


The colour of the skin and sclerae varies depending on levels of bilirubin; mildly elevated levels display yellow skin and sclerae, while highly elevated levels display brown.


Jaundice most often occurs as a result of an underlying disorder that either causes overproduction of bilirubin or prevents the liver from disposing of it, both of which result in bilirubin being deposited in tissues.



Symptoms of jaundice include:

  • Yellow tinge to the skin and the whites of the eyes, normally starting at the head and spreading down the body

  • Pruritis (itchiness)

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain - typically indicates a blockage of the bile duct

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting


Jaundice is related to the function of the liver, so it is essential that individuals maintain this vital organ's health by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and refraining from exceeding recommended amounts of alcohol.



Treatment depends on the cause of the underlying condition leading to jaundice and any potential complications related to it. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can then be directed to address that particular condition, and it may or may not require hospitalization.



Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated June 24, 2017.

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