Jaundice caused by bilirubin means a change in the color of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, which tend to take on a yellowish appearance; this phenomenon is due to the increase in bilirubin in the blood.
Diet Jaundice may occur in neonatal or adult age; in the first case it is a physiological and harmless event, while in the second it almost always indicates a disorder of the liver, biliary tract or red blood cells.
Bilirubin is a waste product that the body derives from the “demolition” of the heme, a constituent of hemoglobin (red blood cell protein that allows the transport of oxygen in the blood).
Jaundice should not be confused with other changes in skin pigmentation such as, for example, excess carotenoids, phenolic exposure, suntan lotion, etc. The diet is able to avoid or improve the anomalies potentially responsible for jaundice. However, each of these causes has a different etiology, which must be treated specifically. This is why in the next chapter we will present a brief subdivision of the pathologies that cause jaundice.
The most common causes of increased levels of conjugated bilirubin are related to liver problems.
- Hepatitis: damage to liver cells due to inflammation may increase direct bilirubin levels.
- Liver cirrhosis: diseases such as alcoholism or certain viruses can cause the cells in the liver to be replaced by scar tissue; Severe cirrhosis causes jaundice.
- Gallstones and tumors of the pancreas can prevent the gallbladder from emptying, making it difficult to eliminate bilirubin.
- Dubin Johnson and Rotor’s syndrome: benign hereditary diseases with jaundice as the main symptom.
Some of the most common causes of indirect hyperbilirubinaemia are:
- Hemolytic anemia: disorders that cause premature red blood cell deterioration, rising levels of bilirubin and “bad cholesterol”.
- Gilbert’s syndrome: benign hereditary disease that can cause mild jaundice during stress periods or if there is poor general health.
- Crigler-Najjar syndrome: a form of hereditary jaundice that can cause brain damage to children born with it.
The treatment of jaundice depends on the disease due to the increase in bilirubin. In general, jaundice is cured by strengthening the liver, as many of its causes are determined by liver disease.
In cases of gallbladder obstruction, a surgical operation is usually required. The treatment of the other diseases that cause hyperbilirubinemia is usually performed by medication.
In addition to these assumptions, jaundice usually does not require treatment in adults. If it causes itching, it can be reduced by using cholestyramine, a drug that helps eliminate bilirubin.
In newborn infants, where high levels of bilirubin are common and these may be more distressing, jaundice is treated with AC transfusion and light therapy.
Also, drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, and limiting the consumption of saturated fats and refined sugars are natural methods to reduce the symptoms of high bilirubin.