Jaundice Disease

Topics: Liver, Bilirubin, Red blood cell Pages: 5 (1702 words) Published: September 10, 2008
The word jaundice is derived from a French word called as jaune, which means yellow. It is a very common condition which is seen in newborn babies which can be treated by exposing them to sunlight. It is also known as yellow skin or eyes disease. It turns your skin, mucous membranes, sclera (the white of your eyes) into a single yellow color. This yellow pigment which is seen on your skin is due to bilirubin which is a byproduct of old red blood cells. If you are affected by jaundice consider it to be a serious problem which cannot to be taken lightly. Nearly 1% red blood cells retire everyday and those are replaced by fresh blood cells. These old blood cells are processed in the liver and later disposed. If there happens to be too many old red blood cells the yellow pigment builds up in the body, which results in the first stages of jaundice. Even though jaundice is not a disease but it is a sign for many other diseases. Jaundice is very common among babies due to the immature functioning of the liver. It is not equipped to deal with the removal of bilirubin from the bloodstream. Jaundice occurs mainly due to liver failure but there are many other reasons by which it is affected. Bilirubin is a natural product arising from the normal breakdown of red blood cells in the body and is excreted in the bile, through the actions of the liver. Jaundice is most often the result of a disorder affecting the liver it can be caused by a variety of other conditions affecting for example the blood or spleen. It should be thoroughly investigated so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated. The red blood cells in our circulation carry oxygen to all parts of the body and have a life span of about 120 days. At the end of their life they are broken down and removed from the circulation by special cells called phagocytes, which are found within the bone marrow, spleen and liver. New red cells are of course continually manufactured and this also takes place within the bone marrow. Following breakdown of the red cells some of their component parts such as amino acids and iron can be re-used by the body. Other components such as bilirubin need to be removed. Knowing how this removal pathway works is the key to understanding how jaundice occurs. Most waste products of the body are excreted in the urine via the kidneys but the liver and bile system is the other main physical route out of the body for these substances. By 'waste products' we mean the many compounds that arise in the course of the body's metabolism but almost all forms of drugs must also be eliminated either via the urine or bile routes. In the case of bilirubin released from old red cells, it passes through the bloodstream to the liver, where the liver cells process it. These cells carry out many complex chemical functions and also produce the liquid bile, which is the 'vehicle' by which the cells discharge their output to the bile duct system. This is a branching network of tiny tubes throughout the liver, which merge in the same way as the branches of a tree. Ultimately a single main bile duct comes out of the liver and joins the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). Bile (and therefore bilirubin) then passes out through the small and large intestines and is excreted in the stool (feces). Bile is green in colour, but bacteria in the large bowel act to change the bilirubin to substances that are brown, which gives stool its characteristic colour. Some of the bilirubin is reabsorbed back into the body through the bowel wall, eventually appearing in the urine as a substance called urobilinogen (although the typical yellow/orange colour of urine is in fact due a different pigment called urochrome). Therefore, any failure of the bilirubin removal pathway will lead to a build-up of bilirubin in the blood. When this happens the individual's skin turns yellow, causing jaundice. There are many conditions that could be associated with jaundice, such as: An...
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