Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of eyes that happens when the body does not process bilirubin properly. This may be due to a problem in the liver.
It is also known as icterus.
Bilirubin is a yellow-colored waste material that remains in the bloodstream after iron is removed from the blood.
The liver filters waste out from the blood. When bilirubin reaches the liver, other chemicals attach to it. A substance called conjugated bilirubin results.
The liver produces bile, a digestive juice. Conjugated bilirubin enters the bile, then it leaves the body. It is this type of bilirubin that gives feces its brown color.
If there is too much bilirubin, it can leak into the surrounding tissues. This is known as hyperbilirubinemia, and it causes the yellow color in the skin and eyes.
Jaundice most often happens as a result of an underlying disorder that either causes the production of too much bilirubin or prevents the liver from getting rid of it. Both of these result in bilirubin being deposited in tissues.
Some underlying conditions that may cause jaundice are:
Common symptoms of jaundice include:
Accompanying symptoms of jaundice resulting from low bilirubin levels include: