Jaundice, also known as Icterus, is a disease wherein the skin and white part of the eyes turn yellow. When jaundice occurs, the liver weakens, and in severe conditions, it stops working.
The non-treatment of jaundice or delayed treatment can also result in permanent damage to the liver. Therefore, early screening and treatment of jaundice are important. Icterus does not pertain to any specific age. It can happen to anyone from new born to old age. However, new-born are at higher risk.
What is Jaundice?
The RBCs (Red Blood Cells) in the body break down within a fixed interval i.e., 120 days creates a by-product called bilirubin. The white part of the eyes, skin, and nails turn yellow, due to increased bilirubin levels in the body. This condition is known as jaundice. This substance first reaches the liver and then exits from the body along with faces and urine.
When the RBCs start to break down before 120 days, the amount of bilirubin in the liver starts increasing. This affects the liver and also weakens the ability of the liver to function. Gradually bilirubin spreads throughout the body, which causes Jaundice.
There are three main types of Icterus:
- Hepatocellular Jaundice, which occurs as a result of liver disease or injury.
- Haemolytic Jaundice occurs as a result of haemolysis, or an accelerated and frequent breakdown of RBCs. This leads to an increase in the production of bilirubin.
- Obstructive Icterus results from an obstruction in the bile duct. This prevents bilirubin from leaving the liver.
Causes of Jaundice
Apart from increasing bilirubin levels, jaundice can also occur due to the following reasons-
- Hepatitis virus infection
- When suffering from Thalassemia (slowing down of the blood in the body)
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver injury
- Bile duct closure
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Consuming extra spicy foods
- Consumption of contaminated food
- Suffering from malaria disease
- Excess salt intake
Symptoms of Jaundice
The symptoms of Icterus are-
- Rapid yellowing of the skin, nails as well as the white part of the eye
- Dark yellow and thick urine, pale stools
- Constantly feeling of tiredness
- Long-term fever, vomiting
- Excessive weight loss
- It also shows symptoms of liver diseases like loss of appetite, stomach pain, and nausea
A blood test is the only way to determine the amount of bilirubin in the body. It also detects other diseases such as hepatitis. The severity of icterus is generally diagnosed in New-born babies with a blood test. The obtained results would indicate the level as moderate or severe.
For the diagnosis of Icterus, some other diagnostic tests may be used. These are as follows-
- Liver Function Test-This includes a series of blood tests that measure levels of certain proteins and enzymes produced by the liver. These tests determine if the liver is healthy or damaged.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)-CBC is done to trace the evidence of haemolytic anaemia.
- Imaging Study-This includes abdominal ultrasounds (Image generation of internal organs using high-frequency sound waves) or CT scans.
- Liver Biopsy-which involves removing small samples of liver tissue for testing and microscopic examination.
Home remedies to treat jaundice
Icterus is treated with sugarcane juice-
Sugarcane juice is very effective in treating jaundice. It fulfils the deficiency of protein and other nutrients in the body. This helps the patient recover from jaundice quickly.
Icterus is cured within a week by consuming sugarcane juice with sattu. Just drinking sugarcane juice three to four times a day is also beneficial in treating jaundice.
Icterus treated with Papaya
Beta-carotene (organic compounds) found in ripe papaya produces vitamin ‘A’ in the body. It also contains nutrients like vitamin ‘C’, phosphorus, calcium, carbohydrate, iron, protein, citric acid, as well as tartaric.
Eating ripe papaya is also beneficial for providing relief in the symptoms of Icterus. Apart from this, consuming curry of raw papaya without spices is also beneficial in curing Icterus.
Curd is great cure for Jaundice
Yogurt prevents bacterial infection in jaundice. It is also beneficial in reducing the symptoms of jaundice. Icterus patients should include yogurt in their diet.
Turmeric is also a great remedy for curing Icterus. It helps in the removal of toxins present in the body. Anyone suffering from icterus can mix one teaspoon of turmeric in half a glass of water and drink it thrice a day to increase the recovery process. Turmeric works by excluding the bilirubin from the body.
Buttermilk contains essential enzymes like protein, minimum lipids (fat), vitamins, and carbohydrates are beneficial for curing Icterus. Drinking a glass of buttermilk with a pinch of rock salt twice a day helps in curing Icterus.
Treatment of Jaundice
The treatment of Icterus depends on the cause of the illness. The treatment is targeted at the cause rather than the symptoms. The treatments for Icterus are:
- Anaemia-induced jaundice involves treatment by increasing the amount of iron in the blood. Iron supplements as well as iron-rich foods are great for this.
- Hepatitis-induced Icterus requires steroid medications as well as antivirals.
- Obstruction-induced jaundice involves treatment by surgically removing the obstruction that caused Icterus.
- Icterus is also caused by the use of medication, involves treatment by changing the medication.
When to See a Doctor?
If they notice any of the following symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor-
- Urine turning dark yellow.
- Yellowing of eyes and skin.
- Feeling excess tiredness.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
- Severe abdominal pain.
- Severe itching.