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1. Is jaundice a disease?
Jaundice, which is yellowing of skin and the white of the eye, is a symptom that is seen due to an underlying disease. There are many diseases and certain physiological conditions that affect the chemical bilirubin in the blood that lead to jaundice. Typically, jaundice is associated with other symptoms too like loss of appetite, diarrhoea, or constipation, fever, etc.
2. Can a newborn have jaundice?
Yes, a newborn may have jaundice; it is called as infant jaundice. It is a fairly common condition in babies born before completion of full nine months of pregnancy. It usually occurs because the baby's liver is not able to process the chemical bilirubin completely. Babies born at the end of the term of pregnancy usually do not need treatment. For premature babies, treatment is easy.
3. What causes jaundice?
Several problems of the liver, gall bladder, red blood cells and pancreas can cause jaundice.
-Blockage in the bile ducts
-Conditions that produce a large amount of red blood cell breakdown like sickle cell anaemia
There are certain rare syndromes like Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor syndrome and certain medications which can also lead to jaundice.
4. What are the signs to know I have jaundice?
There may be many signs that could relate to jaundice. This depends on the cause of jaundice. In certain conditions, there may not be any symptoms. In other cases, if the jaundice is caused by a short term disease, you may experience fever, chills, change in skin colour and change in colour of urine.
5. How do I come to know the reason for jaundice?
If you suspect you have jaundice, you should first refer to a doctor. The doctor will do a physical exam to check for liver tenderness and certain signs on the skin. He may order a few blood tests to know the cause. Ultrasonography or CT scan may also be required to confirm the results.