Contact Us     Maps & Directions     About Us
Find a Provider
Your Medical Home
Find a Facility
Plan Your Visit
Find a Provider
Giving
Mother Frances Hospital
Heart Hospital
Neuroscience Institute
Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Search Health Information    Jaundice

Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow because of the buildup of a yellow-brown pigment called bilirubin in the blood and skin.

Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. The liver normally gets rid of bilirubin in bile (a fluid that helps the body digest fats).

Excess amounts of bilirubin can build up because of rapid destruction of red blood cells, liver diseases (such as hepatitis), blockage of the bile ducts leading from the gallbladder to the small intestine, or other problems. Bilirubin can be measured in the blood, where it is one indicator of a person's liver function.

Other symptoms that may occur as a result of excess bilirubin include dark urine, light-colored or whitish stools, and itching of the skin (pruritis).

If successful, treatment for the underlying cause of jaundice may cause the skin, eyes, urine, and stools to return to their normal color.

Last Revised: July 6, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.