Jaundice is yellow discoloration of skin and the whites of eyeball (sclera). It is the most common symptom associated with any liver problem. Jaundice is a consequence of abnormal rise of bilirubin in the blood. Normally bilirubin levels vary from 0.8mg and 1.2 mg/dl. It becomes clinically evident when the bilirubin level in blood rises above 2mg.
When the increase is greater than 4mg/d, there is visible yellow discoloration of skin, eyes and mucous membrane. Jaundice can be classified under three types; Hemolytic jaundice, Hepatocellular jaundice, and Obstructive jaundice.
What Is Hemolytic Jaundice?
Excessive destruction of red blood cells results in increased bilirubin formation.
Hemolytic jaundice results when there is abnormal increase in bilirubin production due to red blood cell destruction or when the liver is unable to excrete it. The rise of bilirubin level in the body is visible as yellow coloration of skin and eye. Usually hemolytic jaundice is very common in new born, especially in premature babies. This is because during this period the mechanism of bounding bilirubin is immature or to make it easier, the liver in not well developed to handle all its function.
Causes Of Hemolytic Jaundice
By now we know that hemolytic jaundice results when the red blood cells are excessively destroyed. This rate of destruction of red blood cells is increased either because of a congenital defect in red blood cells which renders them unduly fragile. These defects are;
- Sickle cell anemia.
- Congenital Spherocytosis.
- Proximal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.
- G6PD deficiency.
It can also result from various factors that act on the red blood cells and cause hemolytic anemia. These factors include:
- Infection: Malaria, cl. Welchii.
- Drugs: L- methyl dopa, sulphonamide, phenacetin, etc.
- Immunological: Incompatible blood transfusion.
- Spleen enlargement.
- Snake venom.
- Physical agents such as burns, irradiation.
- Leukemia, SLE, Hodgkin’s disease, uremia, pancreatic cancer, Reye’s syndrome.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hemolytic Jaundice
The common features of hemolytic jaundice which are independent of its cause are mentioned below:
- Enlargement of spleen is found in majority of patients suffering from hemolytic jaundice.
- Anemia, the degree of anemia varies with the severity of destruction of red blood cells, and the power of bone marrow to increase the production of red blood cells.
- Skin and eyes turn yellow.
- Stool is pale or white colored.
- Urine is dark yellow or brown in color. Freshly voided urine is normal in color but oxidation process after some time renders the urine dark.
- Urobilinogen is present in urine examination.
- Loss of appetite.
- Mild fever.
- Liver function test of blood are normal.
In newborn infants the symptoms of hemolytic jaundice may be as flows:
- Variation in the tone of muscles.
- The new born cries continuously.
- Lethargic child.
- Very less feeding.
- Epilepsy when jaundice is very high.
Hemolytic Jaundice Treatment
Hemolytic jaundice needs an urgent attention. It can have grave consequences if left unattended. A person should always seek medical consultation when he experiences slightest symptoms of jaundice. Besides following the doctor’s treatment, here are few valuable home treatment tips.
- Take medications as per your doctor’s prescription. Consult your doctor before taking any other medicine and herbs.
- Quit alcohol and cigarette.
- Take bed rest.
- Drink enough water and fluids.
- Eat as per the advice of given by the treating doctor.
- Maintain proper hygiene.