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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Jaundice
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System


Alternate Names : Icterus

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the eyes and skin.

What is going on in the body?

Jaundice is a condition caused by too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellowish-orange breakdown product of red blood cells. It is removed from the blood by the liver. Bilirubin is then processed by the liver, passed into the bile, and excreted into the stool. If it is not excreted, it builds up in the blood. Eventually, the bilirubin can get deposited into the surface of the body. This can cause a yellowish tint to the skin, eyes and lining inside the mouth.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Jaundice can be caused by:

  • immaturity of the liver, which happens in a large number of newborn infants. This is usually normal, goes away on its own, and results in no problems. It is more common when babies are born early, or premature.
  • liver disease, such as liver infection, damage from alcohol or other toxins or drugs, or cancer.
  • obstruction of bile flow, which may be caused by certain drugs, gallstones, or cancer.
  • destruction of a large number of red blood cells, which may occur due to inherited defects in red blood cells, medications, or infections.
  • inherited disorders that affect metabolism.


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    Jaundice: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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