Jaundice, also called jaundice or yellowing, is a symptom that can occur in several different disorders. He describes a yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes and the conjunctiva of the eye by an increased concentration of bilirubin.

What is jaundice?

Diseases of the respective organs Liver (red) and gallbladder (yellow) are the cause of jaundice.

The symptom commonly known as jaundice is also called jaundice by medical professionals. It describes the yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and the eyes. The jaundice is accompanied by a strong itching, as well as nausea and vomiting of greenish-yellow stomach contents.

Jaundice is often accompanied by mostly right-sided abdominal pain and acid regurgitation. In addition, fever and a general malaise, diarrhea or stool discoloration may occur.

In the worst case, it can lead to confusion and changes in the nature of the patient. Jaundice requires immediate medical attention.


The cause of jaundice is an increase in the concentration of bilirubin, a breakdown product of the blood pigment hemoglobin, in the bloodstream. Jaundice is the cause of a bilirubin metabolism disorder. The bilirubin, which is normally excreted via the biliary tract, deposits in the tissue. This becomes visible on the skin and in the eyes. It creates the clinical picture of jaundice.

Increased seizure or diminished excretion of bilirubin leads to an increase in serum concentration in body tissue. Thus, a color change first appears on the white dermis of the eye. With increasing values, one can finally observe the yellowish changes on the skin and mucous membranes. The body fluids and other organs are affected. For example, the urine may be dark brown, while the stool may be light or white.

The increase of bilirubin in the blood can have three different types of causes. Pre-hepatic (jaundice) jaundice results from increased red blood cell disintegration (hemolysis). This is usually based on a blood disorder that causes the disintegration. Intra-hepatic jaundice can be caused by liver inflammation (hepatitis) or by a tumor in the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by viruses, medication or alcohol abuse.

Post-hepatic jaundice is caused by outflow obstructions in the biliary tract. The bile formed in the liver can not drain due to obstacles and there is a backflow of bile (cholestasis) into the liver. The reason for cholestasis may be gallstones, a narrowing of the biliary tract (stenosis) or tumors.

Diseases with this symptom

  • gallstones
  • cholestasis
  • Gallbladder inflammation
  • hepatitis
  • cirrhosis
  • liver failure
  • yellow fever
  • Gallbladder cancer and bile duct cancer
  • Pancreatic inflammation


The term "complication" should include the entire clinical picture. Complication in the medical field is another symptom of a disorder or side effect of a drug, as far as it was used against the disease in question. Because of this, complications may be due to a misdiagnosis as well as in the course of the medical procedure. Jaundice is a common complication of liver or gall disease, which are diseases of the digestive system. Likewise, jaundice may indicate additional complications.

Jaundice is caused by the congestion of bile in the bile duct, caused by various diseases. Complications usually germinate in people who are physically weak. In complicated forms, the underlying disease can lead to death. Jaundice can be an indication of this. To avoid such complications, a clinical examination must be ordered when the first signs appear. Thereafter, the person in question should be treated for the prevention of existing complications such as jaundice in the clinic. Here, a plan for the following outpatient treatment for jaundice and the causative disease can be made. Jaundice is just a symptom, for example in liver cirrhosis.

A digestible diet, the avoidance of alcohol and fatty foods as well as cyclical check-ups can prevent jaundice. Sometimes a calorie-reduced diet is needed. Some drugs are dangerous to the liver and bile, so to avoid jaundice.

When should you go to the doctor?

In case of jaundice, it must always be remembered that this is a symptom, not an independent disease. Mostly, jaundice is an expression of a dysfunction of the liver. For this reason, jaundice should always be consulted by a doctor.

Liver conditions such as liver inflammation, liver cirrhosis, liver tumors and liver cancer can lead to the destruction of this vital organ. It is dangerous in diseases of the liver, that in the beginning often no pain occurs. Jaundice may therefore be an important indication of an urgent liver disorder requiring treatment.

In addition to the liver, disruption of bile excretion from the gallbladder can cause jaundice. Gallstones, bile duct inflammation and bile duct tumors are responsible for this. These sufferings are also necessarily part of a medical treatment.

The cause of jaundice is sometimes excessive red blood cells, erythrocytes, with unprocessed bilirubin depositing and yellowing. This process also leads to neonatal jaundice, which generally recedes on its own, as the liver of newborns can not process bilirubin until the first few days of life. For safety's sake, a newborn with jaundice should still be presented to a pediatrician.

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Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of jaundice depends on the trigger. The treatment of jaundice is thus closely linked to the causes. The goal is to lower the bilirubin level in the blood. First of all, the cause of the jaundice must be found out, since each cause prescribes different treatments.

Gallstones, for example, can be removed by special endoscopes. In some cases, a diseased gallbladder must also be surgically removed. If medicines have damaged the liver, jaundice usually disappears when they are no longer taken. Antiviral drugs can help prevent jaundice caused by viruses.

Pre-hepatic jaundice requires the treatment of the causative blood disorder. This can be expensive depending on the type of illness. In post-hepatic jaundice, eliminating the cause of gallbladder first priority. Gallstones may be eliminated by endoscopic intervention. A narrowing can also be treated with a stent under endoscopic conditions. Here, the bile duct is widened and a small grid used to keep the bile duct constantly open.

The endoscopy of the bile ducts is under a short-term anesthesia and is uncomplicated in good anatomical conditions. For the toxic (poisons), intrahepatic cause of jaundice, immediate delay of the causative drug or alcohol is required. While drug delivery is relatively easy under medical supervision, alcohol withdrawal may be more difficult. In most cases, a controlled withdrawal with psychiatric accompaniment is necessary. Tumors that cause jaundice should be removed as soon as possible depending on the severity of the disease.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis, the further course of the disease, and the prospect of cure for jaundice are directly dependent on the cause causing this symptom. The actual symptom is usually not dangerous anymore. Due to the frequent accompanying itching of jaundice it is rather unpleasant.

However, some underlying conditions that can cause jaundice are dangerous and, in the worst case, can be fatal. A dangerous cause of jaundice is pancreatic cancer. If it is possible to remove the tumor, the survival rate is about fifteen percent. For inoperable tumors of the pancreas, however, the chance of recovery is very poor.

Other causes of jaundice, such as hepatitis A or B virus liver inflammation, in most cases heal by itself in a few weeks and therefore have a good prognosis of 95 percent survival.

Jaundice, so-called jaundice, is particularly common in newborns. In most cases, however, neonatal jaundice is not a serious cause. After about a week, the symptom heals by itself. It becomes problematic if the jaundice is chronic. In a few cases, jaundice can lead to irreparable organ damage.


To prevent jaundice by blocking the bile, a low-fat diet is recommended. Greasy food promotes the development of gallstones. The use of medication should be taken necessarily after the instruction of the attending physician. Some medicines attack the liver if taken incorrectly or over a longer period of time.

For a liver attacked or destroyed by alcohol, alcohol should not be consumed in moderation, or at best not at all. Everything that promotes possible triggers of jaundice, eg. As gallstones, liver cirrhosis or hepatitis, also promotes the development of jaundice. So a low-fat, fiber-rich diet helps to avoid gallstones.

A moderate enjoyment or even a complete renunciation of alcohol protects the liver from damage. In addition, vaccination against hepatitis A or hepatitis B viruses can prevent infection and thus liver damage.

Home remedies & herbs for jaundice

  • Strawberry leaves help against jaundice.

You can do that yourself

In case of jaundice, a physician rarely prescribes special medicines that counteract the typical symptoms. Because of this, it is recommended to do something against jaundice with home remedies. There are many home remedies available to help alleviate the symptoms. This includes in particular tea from fresh strawberry leaves. Mint tea and dandelion tea are also helpful.

Those affected can counteract jaundice by eating a glass of tomato juice a day with salt. Drinking tea made from dried oregano has also proven itself. These should be covered with hot water. The porridge of a crushed banana is also helpful. In order to contribute to the relief, sufferers should add a little honey.

Among the established home remedies is also the juice of ginger and mint and tea from lemon leaves. For people who want to treat their jaundice themselves, recommending daily a freshly pressed lime juice or a beetroot juice with a dash of lemon.

Jaundice does not even have to develop. Those who reduce their excess weight and eat low-fat meals can prevent jaundice. Noteworthy are also the reduction of carbohydrate-rich diet and the renunciation of alcohol. Food should not be spiced too vigorously.

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