Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes
appear yellow because of the buildup of a yellow-brown pigment called bilirubin
in the blood and skin.
Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. The
liver normally gets rid of bilirubin in bile (a fluid that helps the body
Excess amounts of bilirubin can build up because of rapid
destruction of red blood cells, liver diseases (such as hepatitis), blockage of
the bile ducts leading from the gallbladder to the small intestine, or other
problems. Bilirubin can be measured in the blood, where it is one indicator of
a person's liver function.
Other symptoms that may occur as a result of excess bilirubin
include dark urine, light-colored or whitish stools, and itching of the skin
If successful, treatment for the underlying cause of jaundice may
cause the skin, eyes, urine, and stools to return to their normal color.
July 6, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
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