What causes jaundice



In jaundice the skin and the whites of the eyes and, in fact, even the mucous membranes have a slightly yellowish tinge due to discoloration from bile. The amount of jaundice may vary from a deep yellow color to such slight staining that only blood tests will reveal the abnormality. Jaundice develops when the bile passages are blocked. Since the bile comes from destruction of red blood cells, jaundice also appears when there is excessive breakdown of these cells, or when the function of the liver which takes part in the process is impaired by disease or other damage.

Naturally, wear and tear of the blood vessels goes on all the time. About %20 of them are destroyed every day. This means that the life of a red blood cell is about 120 days. When an ordinary bruise turns black and blue the change in color is due to breakdown of the red cells to bile salts. The liver usually disposes of this material.

As I have already said, jaundice is a sign that the liver is not functioning as it should. Scientists recognize at least six different activities for which the liver is responsible

1) The liver gets rid of bile pigments from destroyed blood cells.

2) The liver helps to get rid of toxic and waste materials.

3) The liver participates in using protein material for growth and repair of body tissue.

4) The liver is important in the digestion and utilization of sugars or carbohydrates by the body.

5) The liver has a vital role in the metabolism of fats and the part played by cholesterol in the chemistry of the body.

6) The liver is concerned in the mechanism of blood clotting and the development of prothrombin in the blood which needs vitamin K for proper functioning.

7) The liver has been called the warehouse, the chemical factory, the unit for controlling waste, and other titles. It is a vital organ and we are fortunate that we were created with seven times more than we usually need.