Skip to main content

Jaundice; A Disease that Your Friends Diagnose

  • Author:
  • Updated date:


The name jaundice is derived from the French word jaunisse which means yellowing. When bilirubin, a yellow-orange pigment in bile, is present in excessive amounts, it causes the skin, and whites of the eyes to turn yellow, the condition known as jaundice. Hepatitis, gallstones, and cancer are just a few of the various reasons for jaundice. Red blood cells are broken down to produce bilirubin. Knowing where bilirubin comes from is crucial because it is the main cause of yellowness.

Bilirubin metabolism

The reticuloendothelial system (also known as the macrophage system) is mainly composed of the spleen but also includes lymph nodes, and macrophages that chew up or phagocytose the red blood cells as they come to the end of their lifespan, which is approximately 120 days. In the start, the macrophage consumes the blood cells; before being further broken down into amino acids, hemoglobin splits into heme and globin. The heme is further catabolized into iron and protoporphyrin; the protoporphyrin is then transformed into unconjugated bilirubin (UCB). Bilirubin that is not water-soluble which means it is lipid soluble is known as unconjugated bilirubin, commonly referred to as indirect bilirubin. The indirect bilirubin is bound to albumin protein in the blood. UCB is transported to the liver by albumin-bound circulation, where it is taken up by hepatocytes and changed into a water-soluble form by the addition of glucuronic acid in the presence of the enzyme uridine glucuronyl transferase (UGT). Now, that the conjugated bilirubin has been secreted into the bile ducts, it can go to the gallbladder to be stored as bile.

When you consume something like a donut or anything similar, your gallbladder secretes bile (to digest food) and conjugated bilirubin, which travels down the common bile duct to the duodenum of the small intestine. In the small intestine, it is then changed into urobilinogen, or UBG, by intestinal microorganisms in the gut. The brown color of feces is caused by the reduction of some of that urobilinogen to stercobilinogen, which is expelled. However, some of that UBG is recycled when it is reabsorbed into the blood and spontaneously oxidizes to form urobilin, the majority of which is transported to the liver and the kidneys, respectively. It is then eliminated, which is why urine has a yellow tint.

The result might be a spike in bilirubin levels in the blood, which could be conjugated, unconjugated, or both. For instance, if your liver cells are damaged and can no longer conjugate bilirubin, or if they die and release their bilirubin, this process can be disturbed. The yellow hue of the skin and eyes is explained by this. The typical amount of serum bilirubin needed to produce the skin's characteristically yellow hue is 2.5 mg/dL or more.


Any of the three steps in the production of bilirubin can be problematic and resulting in jaundice.

1. A person can experience jaundice before the production of bilirubin as a result of elevated levels of bilirubin caused by:

  • Reabsorption of a large hematoma (an assortment of coagulated or thickened blood by clotting under the skin)
  • Anemias with hemolysis (blood cells are annihilated and eliminated from the circulatory system before their ordinary life expectancy is finished)

2. Jaundice can develop during the production of bilirubin and be caused by:

  • Hepatitis A infection, active Hepatitis B and C, and Epstein-Barr virus disease (irresistible mononucleosis)
  • immunity-related problems
  • Occasional metabolic abnormalities that run in families
  • Medications such as penicillin, oral contraceptives, chlorpromazine, and anabolic or estrogenic steroids, as well as acetaminophen poisoning

3. Jaundice may develop after bilirubin is produced as a result of bile conduit obstruction (deterrent) caused by:

  • Gallstones
  • Gallbladder enlargement or gallbladder irritation
  • Cancerous growth in the gallbladder
  • Pancreatic enlargement or tumor


Most often the disease is discovered by a coincidence as the person may have no signs of jaundice, that is why it is known as a disease that your friends diagnose. The severity of the symptoms depends on the root causes and how quickly or gradually the infection develops.

Scroll to Continue

If you experience jaundice, which is typically caused by contamination, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomach ache
  • Skin tone transformation
  • Pee with a dull tint, or even a mud-colored

If contamination is not the source of your jaundice, you may experience side effects such as weight loss or inflamed skin (pruritus).

If the jaundice is caused by pancreatic or biliary tract tumors, the most well-known symptom is abdominal pain.

You may develop jaundice in conjunction with liver disease if you have:

  • Hepatitis that is a chronic inflammation of the liver (Hepatitis A, B, or C)
  • Pyoderma Gangrenous (a sort of disorder of the immune system)
  • Polyarthralgias (joint inflammation)


Adults usually do not require treatment for jaundice (newborn children experience it to a greater extent). The causes and challenges of jaundice can be overcome.

The jaundice medications may cause some side effects such as:

  • Blockage
  • Swelling.
  • Stomach ache
  • Gas
  • Loose bowel movements


Given the wide range of causes of jaundice, it is difficult to recommend specific preventive measures. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Avoid getting hepatitis
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Maintain your cholesterol levels

In general, men and women who are moderately older are more affected by bilirubin production. People who have hepatitis and drink alcohol are also at risk.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 S Saleha

Related Articles