Jaundice Treatment Questions and Answers
Jaundice cannot be taken lightly; it leads to some serious health problems. Visit AFC Urgent Care if you have jaundice. Call us today to speak to one of our specialists or book an online appointment. We serve patients from Phoenixville PA, King of Prussia PA, West Norriton PA, Norristown PA, East Norriton PA, Pottstown PA and West Chester PA.
Jaundice causes the skin and whites of the eyes (sclera) to appear yellow. The yellowish appearance is caused by an excess of bilirubin, which is produced when hemoglobin is broken down in the natural process of recycling old or damaged red blood cells. While jaundice can cause itchiness in adults, it causes few other symptoms. In children, however, it can lead to kernicterus, a form of brain damage.
What causes jaundice?
Jaundice is caused by the accumulation of a chemical called bilirubin in the tissues of the body. Bilirubin is a normal body chemical needed to perform natural functions, but can build up to abnormally high levels in certain conditions.
There are millions of red blood cells in your bloodstream, and each blood cell only lasts for about 120 days before being broken down into various waste chemicals in the body. Bilirubin is one of the chemicals that is a byproduct from the broken-down red cells.
Bilirubin is then carried around the bloodstream, and as the blood flows through the liver, the liver cells take up the bilirubin. To make it water-soluble, chemicals in the liver slightly alter the structure of the bilirubin. This new water-soluble version is called conjugated bilirubin.
The liver cells pass out the bilirubin into tiny tubes called bile ducts. The conjugated bilirubin is passed into bile ducts and therefore becomes a part of bile. Bile is a mix of various waste chemicals secreted by the liver cells. This bile then moves into the common bile duct and into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Bile is stored in the gallbladder, which lies under the liver. When we eat, the gallbladder contracts, emptying the stored bile back into the common bile duct and out into the duodenum. The bilirubin in the bile gives feces its typical brown color.
Disposing of bilirubin is a normal process. It is when abnormal amounts of bilirubin build up in the bloodstream that causes someone to become jaundiced, which can happen for many different reasons, such as:
- Conditions affecting the red blood cells
- Conditions affecting the liver cells
- Conditions affecting the small bile ducts located within the liver
- Conditions affecting the common bile duct located outside the liver
Is jaundice a disease?
While jaundice on its own is not a disease, it is a symptom of many different underlying conditions, such as acute inflammation of the liver, inflammation of the bile duct, obstruction of the bile duct and cholestasis.
What are the signs and symptoms of jaundice?
The most common signs of jaundice are:
- Yellowing of the skin
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (sclera)
- Pale stools
- Dark urine
Where should I go if I suspect my child has jaundice?
The first healthcare professional your child should see is their pediatrician or family doctor. They will have a detailed health history for you and your child and will therefore be able to diagnose their condition effectively. If your family doctor is unavailable, come see the professionals at AFC Urgent Care. Our staff are experienced in treating jaundice and can help your child find relief from their symptoms.
If you or someone you know is experiencing jaundice, come to AFC Urgent Care today! Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating jaundice and can help you diagnose the underlying condition causing the disorder. For more information on our jaundice treatments, call our office and get in touch with a member of our specialist team. To book an appointment with our jaundice specialist, visit our website or speak with us over the phone today.