Coordinated Health

Conditions

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Causes of jaundice

Information

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
  • Gallstones
  • 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)

See also:

  • Drug-induced cholestasis
  • Drug-induced hepatitis
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