Jaundice is a yellow discolouration of the skin, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eyes caused by increased amounts of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a by-product of the daily natural breakdown and destruction of red blood cells in the body. Jaundice is a sign of an underlying disease process. 


 A. Haemolytic

  1. Congenital 
  • Sickle cell   anaemia
  • Congenital Spherocytosis

2.  Acquired 

  • G6PD deficiency
  • Infections (viral, bacterial, protozoal)  
  • Serum antibodies (Rh incompatibility, Autoimmune haemolytic disease) 
  • Trauma to red cells (cardiac haemolysis, microangiopathic haemolysis)
  • Hodgkin’s disease

B. Hepatocellular  

  1. Acute
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Hepatic immaturity
  • Drug hepatitis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Yellow fever
  • Infectious mononucleosis

2. Chronic

  • Cirrhosis
  • Congenital hyper- bilirubinemia 

C. Obstructive Jaundice

  1. Without mechanical obstruction
  • Acute (Drugs, Viral hepatitis, Pregnancy)

2.  With mechanical obstruction

  • Intrahepatic (neoplasm, reticulosis, congenital obliteration of bile duct) 
  • Extrahepatic  (inside duct-  gallstones, foreign body, parasites in duct wall, congenital atresia, stricture tumour of the bile duct, sclerosing cholangitis; Outside duct-  CA head of pancreas/ampulla Of Vater, Metastasis in porta hepatis, Chronic pancreatitis)


  • Acute hepatitis 
  • Bile duct obstruction
  1. Gallstones
  2. Cirrhosis
  • Haemolytic Anaemia
  1. Malaria
  2. Autoimmune diseases
  • Hereditary
  1. Gilbert’s syndrome
  2. Crigler-Najjar syndrome
  3. Dubin-Johnson syndrome
  4. Rotor’s syndrome
  • Neonatal jaundice 
  • Eating large quantities of carrots, pumpkin, or melon (pseudojaundice)
  • Carcinoma of the gall bladder, pancreas

Symptoms and signs

  • Confusion
  • Backache
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry mouth/eyes
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Light-coloured stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Pain abdomen
  • Poor feeding(newborn)
  • Swelling of the legs and abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Yellow discolouration of the skin, mucous membranes, and the whites of the eyes


  • Blood test
  1. complete blood count
  2. liver function tests
  3. lipase/amylase level
  4. electrolytes panel
  5. viral markers
  • Urine test
  • Stool test
  • Barium swallow/meal
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • ERCP
  • Liver biopsy
  • Endoscopy
  • Laparotomy

Treatment of jaundice

The treatment of jaundice depends on the underlying cause.


  • Iron supplements
  • Iron-rich foods in the diet
  • Ayurvedic Medicines like Tinifat, Arogyavardhini


Ayurvedic Medicines


  • Rest
  • Low salt diet
  • Ayurvedic Medicines
  • Shunt surgery


Surgery; for gall stones, tumours

Gilbert’s syndrome

There is no treatment for Gilbert’s syndrome

Neonatal jaundice

  • Phototherapy (exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light)
  • Blood transfusion (if phototherapy fails)


  • Deafness
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Acute Bilirubin Encephalopathy
  • Kernicterus


  • Take anti-malarial treatment before travelling to high-risk regions.
  • Avoid heavy alcohol use (alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and pancreatitis).
  • Avoid medications and toxins which can cause hemolysis or directly damage the liver.
  • Avoid medications that can cause hemolysis (G6PD deficiency).
  • Avoid potentially contaminated food/water and maintain good hygiene (Hepatitis A).
  • Intravenous drug use or unprotected intercourse (Hepatitis B).
  • Vaccines for hepatitis (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B)

Leave a Comment