Jaundice is a medical condition best known for causing a yellowish appearance to the skin. It’s name comes from the French word jaune which means yellow. It is well known for affecting newborn babies, but it can occur in anyone of any age. In adults, jaundice is usually caused by an underlying disease and it should be thoroughly investigated. If you have ever wondered what causes this interesting condition, keep reading to find out.
What causes jaundice?
Basically jaundice is caused by an increase in the bilirubin levels in the blood. Bilirubin is a waste product that results from a breakdown of hemoglobin molecules from the old red blood cells. It is usually excreted in the bile and urine, but jaundice can occur if this process is compromised by disease. There are many reasons that this happens, but the most common are liver diseases (such as liver cancer or hepatitis) or a blockage of the biliary tract (the tract where bile is secreted by the liver).
In newborn babies jaundice occurs because the liver is not processing the bilirubin properly. In most cases the condition clears up on its own as the liver begins to work properly. Until this occurs the excess bilirubin can be converted for processing with a device called a bili light. The newborn is placed under this light until their liver in functioning properly. It is essential to treat this condition because untreated jaundice can lead to brain damage.
Did you know?
Bilirubin is what gives bruises their yellow color. It is also responsible for the color or urine and feces.
When a newborn is placed under a bili light they are required to wear eye shields to prevent damage to the eyes.