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Jaundice causes

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:

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:

References

Lidofsky SD. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 20.


Review Date: 4/17/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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