Home > Common Ailments > J > JAUNDICE


What is it?
Jaundice is not a disease as such, but a sign of a disorder. When jaundice is present the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.
Symptoms: Nausea and vomiting, dark urine and light coloured stools, the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow and generalized itching.
Causes: Build-up of bilirubin in the blood.(Bilirubin is a waste product that forms when red blood cells are broken down. Normally it is removed from the bloodstream by the liver, collected in the gallbladders as bile and excreted in the faeces). Jaundice may be caused by three main groups of disorders:

  • Excessive destruction of red blood cells, as occurs in newborn babies or haemolytic anaemia.
  • Disorders of the liver, for example hepatitis, glandular fever and malaria.
  • Obstruction of the bile ducts, for example gallstones and cancer of the intestine or pancrease.

Treatment in the home: None
Possible complications: Complications are relative to the cause of jaundice.
When to consult a doctor: Immediately symptoms appear.
What the doctor may do: Arrange for blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Once jaundice is diagnosed, further tests may be arranged to determine the underlying cause. Treatment will depend on the cause of jaundice.