Jaundice is a yellow color in the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow color comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jaundice is a sign of other diseases.
This article discusses the possible causes of jaundice in children and adults. For information on jaundice in very young infants, see: Newborn jaundice
Causes of jaundice
Common causes of jaundice in older children and adults include:
- Viral infection of the liver (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E)
- Parasite infection of the liver
- Cancer of the pancreas
Other causes of jaundice include:
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Disorders present since birth that makes it hard for the body to breakdown bilirubin (such as Gilbert syndrome, Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor syndrome, or Crigler-Najjar syndrome)
- Eating poisonous mushrooms or other poisons
- Immune disorder that mistakenly attacks healthy liver tissue (autoimmune hepatitis)
- Liver damage caused by reduced oxygen or blood flow to the liver
- The body destroys too many blood cells and the liver cannot handle them (hemolytic anemia)
- Use of certain drugs, including an overdose of acetaminophen
Gallbladder and bile duct disorders that can cause jaundice include:
- Blocked or narrowed bile ducts (by infection, tumor, stricture, or gallstones)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Bile build up in the gallbladder because of pressure in the belly area during pregnancy (jaundice of pregnancy)
- Drug-induced cholestasis
- Drug-induced hepatitis
Lidofsky SD. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 20.
Reviewed by:David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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