What is Jaundice?, We can say Jaundice as a visible sign for some diseases or illness that is developing inside a person’s body rather than a definite disease. And causes of jaundice are numerous.
Generally jaundice symptoms include, high bilirubin levels present (that is three times higher) in blood than in a normal person’s body,so this is also known as hyperbilirubinemia.
The name Jaundice (jaune = means yellow color in french) itself indicates, bilirubin is yellow in color and the abnormal bilirubin levels that is high bilirubin levels is the causes of jaundice. It is formed due to breakdown of heme that is RBC(Red blood cells).
Jaundice symptoms include yellowish skin, eyes(the white part of eyes), mucous membrane due to high bilirubin levels along with fatigue, vomiting and dark urine.
What are the Causes of Jaundice ?:
Answer for the question what causes jaundice?, is causes of Jaundice vary from less severe to dangerous. Some conditions can be recovered in few weeks and some are fatal that may leads to death. A main phenomenon which involves in the Causes of Jaundice is, high bilirubin levels. Bilirubin is a yellow colored waste product formed during the lysis of aged or uncommon RBC.
And this phenomenon resulsts in high biluribin levels in the blood. So high bilirubin is due to excess breakdown of RBC. Bilirubin is produced in two steps during lysis. RBC produces biliverdin in first step, an enzyme biliverdin reductase converts it into bilirubin in the second step. An abnormality in these two steps affects bilirubin levels.
It is two types, indirect form of bilirubin which is unconjugated bilirubin, and bilirubin which is water solvable is known as conjugated bilirubin. This waste product should be sent out of the body.
And in the process of doing so it is collected from blood and sent to liver to normalize high bilirubin levels in blood, from liver it is sent out of the body in the form of bile ( secreted by liver) or urine, if this metabolism fails it results in jaundice.
Based on the condition and disruption in the movement of bilirubin causes of jaundice can be divided into three types. In the later subsections the types and specific causes of jaundice are explained.
1. Pre Hepatic Jaundice- And Causes of Jaundice:
As mentioned earlier high bilirubin levels are due to hemolysis this results in the high unconjugated bilirubin levels in the blood. And jaundice symptoms due to excess hemolysis comes under pre hapatic causes of jaundice. There are several causes of jaundice which comes under pre hepatic jaundice like infection, fever and hereditary disorders. It happens before bilirubin reaches the liver.
A. Malaria :
Malaria is a blood infection (a type of fever) due to female mosquito (anopheles) bite that falls under pre hepatic causes of jaundice.
A parasite namely plasmodium is transferred from saliva of mosquito into the blood and it reaches liver thorough the blood where it reproduce and grow it disturbs the new RBC. Due to which hemolysis occur and bilirubin levels increases.
Jaundice symptoms due to malaria are high fever, yellowish skin and fatigue etc
B. Sickle cell anemia :
Causes of jaundice include many hereditary disorders, one is sickle cell anemia. In this RBC shape is abnormal that is sickle shape(crescent shape). These cells cannot carry haemoglobin protein which is mandatory for RBC to carry oxygen. And their life span is 10-20 days. So they die faster resulting in high bilirubin levels in blood.
And they often become obstructive for blood flow in the blood vessels causing pain in that particular area of blockage affecting bilirubin levels. Jaundice symptoms due to sickle cell anemia are yellowing of skin, eyes and mouth.
C. Thalassemia :
Thalassemia is a one of the causes of jaundice which is hereditary blood disorder type in which insufficient amount of hemoglobin produces, and this is important for RBC to carry out oxygen.
And the person will have less RBC than the normal person (Anemia). Since the these RBC cannot be used in regular metabolism they breakdown at faster rate causing high bilirubin levels.
D. Hereditory Spherocytosis:
As the name indicates this is one of the genetic hereditary disorder causes of jaundice where the RBC are sphere in shape rather than bi-concave. Although they absorb much oxygen and water, they are very much prone to break when it absorbs water than the normal cells.
So these generally have short life span (< 120 days) compared to normal RBC. And they breakdown faster than the normal RBC affecting unconjugated high bilirubin levels in the blood.
Jaundice symptoms in this type are fatigue, shortage of breath, increased heart rate and headache.
E. Crigler Najjar syndrome:
This is comes under special causes of jaundice which is hereditory, the metabolism of bilirubin that is chemical transformation is stopped due to absence of a specific enzyme that helps bilirubin transfer out of blood to liver. And it is one of causes for high bilirubin levels.
Jaundice symptoms in this are yellow skin, eyes and confusion.
F. G6PD(Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency):
How G6PD is a causes of jaundice, If an enzyme G6PD important for RBC is deficient it leads to destruction of RBC affecting bilirubin levels that is high bilirubin, which is causes of jaundice. G6PD is because of error in metabolism, due to mutation in X-chromosome. This G6PD can be observed mostly in men,the reasons can be many for this phenomenon.
Jaundice symptoms in this are yellow skin, eyes, dizziness, rapid heart beat etc.
G. Hemolytic anemia:
How hemolytic anemia a causes of jaundice?, answer is RBC life span is much less than 120 days in hemolytic anemia causing high bilirubin levels in blood.
There is a special condition where the destruction rate of RBC is higher than the production rate, leading to high bilirubin levels.
Another special case known as drug induced immune hemolytic anemia is due to overtake or misuse of drugs immune system attacks its own RBC and results in high bilirubin levels.
Another case is piruvate kinase deficiency which is important enzyme for RBC and directly effects the life span of the RBC resulting in high bilirubin levels in blood.
In this Jaundice symptoms observed are yellowing of skin and eyes.
2. Intra Hepatic jaundice – and Causes of Jaundice:
Liver is a place where RBC worn out, toxic wastes get filtered, important vitamins(such as A, D, E and K) are stored and coagulation proteins are formed. Liver secrets bile juice to sent high bilirubin out of body. It is a place where bilirubin levels are maintained.
Intra hepatic causes of jaundice is due to improper functioning of liver, to process (to prepare bilirubin sent out liver and out of body) high bilirubin levels in blood. Here liver tissue get damaged and results in improper functioning of liver.
In this Jaundice symptoms includes viral fever. Hepatitis is a causes of jaundice where liver does not function properly due to viral infection and violation of immunity system. Violation of autoimmune system is an extremely rare condition where immune system produces antibodies against liver tissue such that it cannot process bilirubin.
what causes jaundice of this type are viruses Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E.
This virus is spread through contaminated food and water.
This is spread through blood and body fluids of a person who is infected.
Is spread through direct contact of body fluids through injections, shaving razors and sexual intercourse with the infected person. It is dangerous for liver and can damage liver tissue severely.
It is spread through direct contact of infected blood. This does not present without the presence of Hepatitis B virus.
This is spread through water in the areas where sanitation is poor.
As the liver infected, high blirubin levels are observed in blood since liver is damged. Jaudice symptoms in hepatitis are
B. Alcohol consumtion:
Does alcohol consumption is one of the causes of jaundice?. Yes,liver generally filters toxic material consumed by the body. Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time directly causes liver damage since toxic wastes from the alcohol filtered at liver. Jaundice symptoms in this type are like other causes.
Leptospirosis is causes of jaundice caused by leptospira bacteria. Severe form of this is known as weil’s disease.This is spread through animals (such as rats, dogs, pigs and cows) to humans.
This bacteria is present in urine of animals that are infected, when human touches the soil urinated by these animals it might spread into the body and sometimes causes severe organ damage such as liver damage.
Drugs a causes of jaundice?, yes they contains toxic materials, due to consumption of drugs liver get damaged. Some medicine also contains toxic materials which are filtered at liver as they can harm other body parts.
And some toxins such as phenol, carbon tetra chloride are hazardous to liver.As the level of toxic materials increases the liver tissue get damaged. Resulting improper functioning of liver in process of bilirubin.
Cirrhosis is a causes of cancer since liver filters toxic material, long term storage of toxic material ( such as alcohol consumption over long period of time) at liver causes serious damage to liver tissue and also repeated infection with hepatitis virus leads to progressive damage of liver tissue.
Jaundice symptoms in cirrhosis are yellow color skin and eyes.
F. Dubin- Johnson syndrome:
Causes of jaundice which is not harmful case in which liver is incapable of sending out conjugated high bilirubin which has to be processed into bile. It is a rare genetic disorder.
This has jaundice symptoms along with abdmonial pain.
G. Gilbert’s Syndrome:
Gilbert’s Syndrome is inherited causes of jaundice of liver disorder type and does not show any symptoms but sometimes slight yellow color of skin may be observed. It is due to mutation in a specific gene UGT1A1 which results in improper functioning of liver thus disturbing liver to process bilirubin.
People with this syndrome usually have higher bilirubin in blood.
H. Liver Cancer:
Cancer is also a causes of jaundice in this case, where cell division is unlimited. If liver cancer occurred then liver cannot do its regular actions. Resulting in poor processing of bilirubin. No special jaundice symptoms are there except discoloration of skin.
3. Post-Hepatic jaundice- and Causes of Jaundice:
Causes of Jaundice in Post Hepatic jaundice are observed when the bile duct system is effected or damaged and cannot sent bilirubin into digestive system from gallbladder due to various reasons. And those are the following.
A. Gallstones :
Bile is a fluid secreted by liver consists of processed bilirubin and stored in gallbladder. Gallstones are small stones formed out of cholesterol that is present in bile, excess bilirubin present in bile and from concentrated bile when gallbladder is full.
These are not dangerous but they might be obstructive while transferring bile from gallbladder into opening of digestive system turning into causes of jaundice. A person with stones get sever abdominal pain along with jaundice symptoms.
B. Gallbladder cancer or bile duct cancer:
Cancer is also one of the causes of jaundice as discussed earlier. If bile duct system or gallbladder get effected with cancer then it cannot function normally. Based on the location gallbladder has different type of cancer. But this is a very rare condition.
C. Pancreatisis :
Gallbladder opens into pancreatic duct. As discussed earlier gallstones are one of the causes of jaundice, and these are interlinked since bilirubin levels depends on the movement of bile. Infection with pancreatic duct such as swelling due to medication and excess amount of triglycerides etc causes pancreatisis.
As it get infected bile cannot be sent into intestine and out of body as a result bilirubin levels increases.
D. Pancreatic Cancer:
What causes jaundice of this type?, as we said earlier cancer is also one of the causes of jaundice. Pancreas plays a major role in releasing harmones. If its cells grow at abnormal rate the functioning of pancreas gets disturbed. Thus it effects the movement of bilirubin out of body.
4. What is Neonatal Jaundice ?
Apart from above causes of jaundice, we generally observe jaundice symptoms in infant babies, in the first week after birth. But this is not dangerous and baby gets recovered in two weeks. What causes jaundice of this type?, it is due to high bilirubin levels in blood than a baby can send out of its body.
5. What is Pseudo jaundice ?
This Jaundice symptoms are yellow coloration but it is not one of the causes of jaundice that occur due to high bilirubin levels in blood. Instead what causes jaundice of this type are eating excess amount of carrot, pumpkin and melon, which consists of excess amount of beta carotene.
The above explained are the main causes of Jaundice.