Jaundice --- Causes and Top 10
Remedies
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June 18, 2011, last updated June 11, 2013


By Michael Chang, Contributing Columnist










Jaundice can be a terrifying disease --imagine waking up in the
morning and seeing the whites of your eyes almost glowing a
pale yellow. Even worse, the skin of your face might be
covered in the same sallowy tint. Jaundice, which is caused by
"hyperbilirubuneamia", excess levels of bile (bilirubin) in your
blood, affects millions of Americans every year.  What causes
jaundice? What foods or other natural remedies exist to
combat jaundice?

Jaundice is in fact a symptom of several major illnesses, such as
liver disease and hepatitis C.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, cirrhosis
and other chronic liver disease are common causes of death in
the US, resulting in over 20,353 deaths each year. And another
estimated 4 million Americans are chronically infected with
hepatitis C which causes between 10,000 to 12,000 deaths
each year. With such staggering statistics, it is, thus, important
to keep an eye out for jaundice as a symptom of these
potentially fatal illnesses.

What is hyperbilirubinemia?

Red blood cells provide oxygen throughout the body; however,
as they get old, they are destroyed, which releases hemoglobin.
Bilirubin is the chemical that remains in the bloodstream after
the iron from the hemoglobin from the red blood cell is
removed. Because bilirubin is a waste product, one of the
functions of the liver is to eliminate such toxic chemicals from
the bloodstream through the intestines through your bowel
movements as excrement. However, when the liver is affected,
a build-up of bilirubin occurs, resulting in hyperbilirubinemia.
You may discover that your
stools become white or putty-
colored, another symptom of an imbalance of bile in your body.
(Read more about
what different bowel colors mean.)

Causes of Jaundice

Most causes of jaundice are hepatic, or relating to the liver. The
liver is charged with the responsibility of eliminating the waste
product of bilirubin; however, because its functions might be
compromised due to a medical condition or disease,
hyperbilirubinemia may occur as a result of many factors:

•        The rate at which bilirubin is being produced is much too
fast for the liver to remove from the bloodstream.
•        A liver defect occurs, preventing bilirubin from being
removed from the bloodstream.
•        A blockage of the bile duct reduces the flow of bile and
bilirubin from the liver into the intenstines.

Here are the myriad of liver diseases that may cause jaundice in
a patient:

•        Hemolysis
•        Acute Inflammation of the liver
•        Chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver
cancer
•        Inflammation of the Bile Duct
•        Blockage of the Bile Duct
•        Genetic Disorder
•        Ineffective Erythropoiesis

While cosmeticall  jaundice can be an issue, the real dilemma
lies in the fact that what is causing this yellowish tint in your
skin can be potentially medically debilitating or even fatal. If
you do find yourself in this dilemma, it is important that you
locate the ways to treat and cure yourself, depending on the
cause of the jaundice.

Top 10 Causes and Treatments for Jaundice



























Jaundice can be caused a variety of different diseases and
illnesses. Thus, the primary step for treatment for this sallowy
pigmentation of your skin is to first determine the cause of
jaundice before you can actually treat it. A variety of different
medical tests can provide you with a diagnosis as to the cause
of the jaundice: a blood test to confirm excess bilirubin levels,
an ultrasound to inspect the liver and bile ducts, or a CT scan
to diagnose the condition.

1)
Administer Vitamin Supplements to treat Hemolysis

Because hemolysis is the unusually rapid destruction of red
blood cells, it can be a cause of an excessive level of bilirubin,
resulting in jaundice. The premature destruction of red blood
cells results in abnormally low levels of these oxygen-providing
cells and high levels of bilirubin. You will have to consult a
physician to determine the type of hemolytic anemia; however,
common treatments include the administration of folic acids,
corticosteroids, and iron replacement. (Read more about the
Top 10 foods high in iron.)

Also, according to 1997 University of Massachusetts Medical
School study, there are strong ties to fava bean consumption
and acute hemolysis. Thus, avoiding these beans can be a way
to quell the hemolysis and thereby, reduce the yellow
pigmentation in your skin.

2)
Use Milk Thistle to Combat Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infectious disease that results in an acute
inflammation of the liver, reducing the organ’s ability to
conjugate and secrete bilirubin. This condition can be both
acute (short-lived) or chronic (long term). Because it
compromises the liver’s natural functions, it will affect levels of
bilirubin, resulting in jaundice.

Many natural remedies have been lauded for successfully
supporting a healthy liver and have been used for thousands of
years to combat liver disease. According to a Life Force 2007
study by Dr. Rajesh Shah, consuming herbs such as Carduus
marianus, or more commonly known as milk thistle, can
decrease the viral load of Hepatitis C.

Other homeopathic remedies for reducing inflammation of the
liver are dandelion and verbena officinalis.

3)
Cirrhosis or Advanced Liver Disease

Cirrhosis is a potentially fatal condition that results from
inflammation and scarring of the liver. Again, because it
compromises the liver’s ability to expel waste products like
bilirubin, jaundice occurs, alerting you to a much graver
problem: cirrhosis—an advanced liver disease.

While the most important thing to do when you are diagnosed
with cirrhosis is to halt any further intake of alcohol, which is
probably the cause of the condition, there are also natural
remedies that can help cirrhosis. According to a 1989 University
of Barcelona study, there is evidence that utilizing "silymarin"
as a natural herbal remedy can reduce mortality rates by as
much as 7 percent.

4)
Take Mucomyst to Combat Tylenol-induced Liver Toxicity

While it is one of the most popular painkillers in the United
States, totaling 8 billion pills taken collectively annually, Tylenol,
or acetaminophen, can cause serious liver damage if taken
above the recommended dosage, which is 4000 mg a day. In
fact, even taking taking recommended doses of Tylenol can
cause mild to moderate liver damage. Acetaminophen-induced
liver toxicity can result in long-term liver damage, resulting in
hyperbilirubinemia and jaundice.  In the UK, acetaminophen is
called "paracetamol" and it is one of the leading causes of
overdose deaths. (Read more about
acetaminophen overdose
symptoms and remedies.)

While you can simply cut back on your Tylenol intake, patients
suspected of being at high risk of developing acetaminophen
liver injuries can be given the antidote, N-acetyl-cysteine, or
Mucomyst to detoxify the painkiller. According to a 2009 UT
Southwestern Medical Center study, those acute liver failure
patients who were administered this antidote were
approximately 2.5 times more likely to survive the bout.

5)
Treating Gallstones to Ease Blockage of the Bile Duct

When jaundice occurs due to the blockage of bile ducts, no bile
enters the intestines. Rather than releasing the waste product
of bilirubin through the intestines as excrement, it builds up in
the liver. Consequently, you experience the yellowing of your
skin and scalerae. The most common cause of bile duct
blockage is from
gallstones, which are solid particles formed
form bile that collects in the gallbladder.

In a severe case of gallstones, you may need to have your
gallbladder removed in its entirety. Fortunately, the gallbladder
is not a necessary organ. However, you can choose not to
remove it if it is not to severe. You will need to watch your diet,
intaking clear liquids and avoiding greasy food in order to give
the gallbladder a rest.  (Read more about
how to prevent
gallstones.)

6)
Genetic Disorders

While in the vast majority of cases of jaundice is a signal from
your body that you are suffering from some form of illness,
sometimes jaundice does not cause any health issues.

A common genetic disorder that causes this sallowy yellow skin
color is "Gilbert’s syndrome". Affecting around 7 percent of the
entire population, the condition is a result of a reduction in
activity of the enzyme that needs to conjugate the bilirubin.
Increases in bilirubin are usually mild; however, it many
occasionally reach excessive levels that cause jaundice.

7)
Take Multivitamins to Counter the Effects of Bile Duct
Inflammation

When the bile duct becomes inflamed, it can also halt the flow
of bile and elimination of bilirubin, leading to jaundice.

One of the primary causes of this inflammation is primary biliary
cirrhosis, an autoimmune disease of the liver characterized by a
slow destruction of the small bile ducts.

While there are no known cures forbiliary cirrhosis, individuals
suffering from this condition have poor absorption of Vitamins
A, D, E, and K.  Therefore, it is very important that you take
your multivitamins, particularly vitamin D, as well as calcium!

8)
Reduce Alcohol Intake to Ease Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the exocrine
component of the pancreas. Because it does not exhibit many
symptoms, it is often referred to as “the silent killer.” However,
should the cancer develop to a point, where it obstructs the
bile duct, jaundice can occur, alerting you to a possible medical
condition. If you suspect that this might be a cause of your
yellowing skin (perhaps due to family medical history), you
should consult a physician to perform a CT scan to determine
whether pancreatic cancer is, in fact, the cause.

9)
Following Treatment for Liver Cancer

Liver cancer can severely impair liver functions, resulting high
levels of bilirubin and jaundice. In fact, jaundiced skin is often
a cited symptom of hepatic cancer that allows physician to
identify and treat the condition. While it depends on the type of
liver cancer, forms of chemotherapy are necessary to treat this
medical illness. Because it is a well-established fact, even cited
by the World Health Organization, that alcohol is a huge risk
factor for liver cancer; those suffering from this hepatic
condition should refrain from even taking a sip of alcohol!

10)
Stop Taking Estrogen to Reduce Bilirubin Levels

Here is another side effect of estrogen supplementation.
Sometimes, drugs can cause jaundice and cholestasis due to
liver or bile duct inflammation. Certain drugs will interfere will
the chemical processes in the liver and bile duct that results in
retention of bile and bilirubin in the liver. One particular drug
that causes this to occur is estrogen.

The levels of bilirubin will drop to normal levels within a few
weeks if you discontinue the usage of estrogen supplements.


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