Jaundice in Adults

Jaundice is not commonly found in adults. But, when present, it can be an underlying symptom of severe health conditions. Therefore, it is essential to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods for the same.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
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Jaundice occurs when the level of the bile pigment, bilirubin, in the blood increases. It is very common in newborn babies and infants. However, it is not limited only to these age groups and can also be found in adults. In case of adults, jaundice is severe and can be a symptom of severe diseases and disorders. But, as the signs and symptoms of jaundice are easy to identify, it can be diagnosed and treated effectively.
Causes of Jaundice
There can be many causes for bilirubin levels in blood to rise. Bilirubin, or the bile pigment, is a waste product formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin. Improper functioning of the liver leads to building up of bilirubin in the blood. This can occur due to the following reasons:
► Obstruction in the bile duct that prevents the flow of bile - (Obstructive jaundice).
► Injury, infection or liver cell failure blocks the normal functioning of the liver - (Hepatocellular jaundice).
► Breakdown of RBCs (red blood cells) leads to increase in bilirubin levels - (Haemolytic jaundice).
Diseases and disorders like alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, cirrhosis, drug-induced hepatitis, gallstones, hepatitis, hepatotoxicity, malaria, pancreatic cancer, sickle cell anemia, spherocytosis, thalassemia, and viral hepatitis can cause the aforementioned conditions.
Signs and Symptoms
As mentioned above, the signs and symptoms of jaundice are easily identified and diagnosed. Yellowing of skin and the white of the eyes are the prominent symptoms of this condition. Secondly, the urine becomes yellowish or tea colored, while the stools appear whitish. Sometimes, the skin may also become very itchy and cause discomfort. Apart from these, the following symptoms are also observed.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
Is Jaundice Contagious?
Jaundice is not contagious. As it is a condition caused due to malfunctioning of the liver, there are no chances of it being transmitted from one person to the other.
Identifying the underlying cause is necessary to treat the symptoms of jaundice in adults. As aforementioned, jaundice is merely a symptom of some underlying health condition. Therefore, identifying and treating this health condition helps in treating jaundice. For e.g., if it is caused due to gallstones, then gallstones need to be treated with related treatment methods. In case of jaundice caused due to hepatitis, then treatment methods like using medications, taking proper care, or hospitalization may be required.
Diet Guidelines
Some of the prominent symptoms of jaundice include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. As the person has a weakened immune system, he is highly susceptible to infectious diseases. Therefore, it is essential to follow a strict diet until the condition is treated and cured.
➡ It is advised to avoid junk, processed, and fast food for a month or two until the condition is cured.
➡ Secondly, you should also stay away from oily, fried, and greasy foods, alcohol, and other drinks.
➡ The diet of a person suffering from jaundice must contain fresh vegetables and fruits.
➡ It is recommended to eat homemade and freshly cooked food every day.
The doctor will provide a detailed list of foods to eat and those to avoid when suffering from jaundice. Therefore, you should consult the doctor before making any changes to your diet.
As jaundice in adults is usually a symptom of a serious disorder, it is not to be ignored. It can be cured if timely and proper treatment is undertaken. It is advisable to see the doctor for proper medical consultation and treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant only to provide information. It is not to be substituted for expert medical advice.