Jaundice is a condition involving the liver that results to a yellowish tinge on the skin and white of the eyes. Although it is common and brief among newborns, jaundice among children might be an indication of a serious health condition.
It is important to note that jaundice is due to hyperbilirubinemia which is the accumulation of bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is generated during the normal breakdown of the red blood cells. It is a yellow-orange substance that passes via the liver and eliminated from the body.
If there is an abnormally elevated level of bilirubin in the blood, jaundice develops and signs of changes in the skin and eye color manifest. Jaundice in both children and adults is considered unusual and a sign of a health issue that require treatment.
What are the signs?
The evident signs of jaundice are yellowing of the skin and white part of the eye. There are also color changes in the bodily fluids such as dark urine and pale stools.
If the jaundice is linked to a serious health condition such as hepatitis, there are other symptoms present such as:
- Abdominal pain
These signs must be taken seriously but if there is distress, the child must be taken to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible.
What are the causes?
Jaundice has a variety of causes. The root cause must be determined to ensure that the right treatment is started.
Some of the usual causes of jaundice include:
- Hepatitis – all forms involve liver inflammation. Over time, it can cause significant harm to the liver.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – this is a common virus that affects both children and adults. It is spread via bodily fluids such as saliva
- Hemolytic anemia
Management of jaundice
The ideal treatment for jaundice is based on the underlying health condition. Among newborns, jaundice is treated with phototherapy.
In case jaundice is linked to rapid destruction of the red blood cells, the doctor might suggest blood transfusions, certain drugs or plasmapheresis. Take note that plasmapheresis is a procedure where plasma is separated from the blood cells.
When it comes to hepatitis, the treatment is based on the type of virus. As for EBV, it is simply left to heal on its own. The treatment is aimed on the management of symptoms such as fever and nausea.