How is Jaundice Caused?

Jaundice is a condition characterized by a yellowing of the skin and eyes due to an excess of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced during the breakdown of red blood cells. Normally, it is processed by the liver and excreted in the bile. However, when there is an imbalance in the production, processing, or excretion of bilirubin, jaundice can occur. Here are the main causes of jaundice:

  1. Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by viral infections (hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E), can impair the liver’s ability to process bilirubin and lead to jaundice.
  2. Liver cirrhosis: Chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, can cause scarring and damage to liver cells. This impairment in liver function can lead to the accumulation of bilirubin and result in jaundice.
  3. Gallstones: Gallstones can obstruct the bile ducts, preventing the flow of bile from the liver to the intestines. As a result, bilirubin cannot be properly excreted, leading to jaundice.
  4. Alcoholic liver disease: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and inflammation, leading to alcoholic hepatitis and eventually cirrhosis. These conditions can impair the liver’s ability to process bilirubin and result in jaundice.
  5. Hemolytic anemia: Certain blood disorders, such as hemolytic anemia, cause the rapid breakdown of red blood cells. This excessive breakdown can overload the liver’s capacity to process bilirubin, resulting in jaundice.
  6. Medications and toxins: Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anabolic steroids, can cause liver damage or cholestasis (impaired bile flow), leading to jaundice. Exposure to certain toxins, such as industrial chemicals or toxic mushrooms, can also cause liver damage and jaundice.
  7. Inherited conditions: Some genetic disorders, such as Gilbert syndrome or Dubin-Johnson syndrome, can disrupt the normal processing and excretion of bilirubin, leading to jaundice.

It’s important to note that jaundice can be a symptom of various underlying conditions, ranging from mild and temporary to serious and life-threatening. If you or someone you know has symptoms of jaundice, it is important to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.