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What is jaundice?

Jaundice is yellowing of your skin and eyes. It is caused by high levels of bilirubin in your body. Jaundice may be a symptom of liver, pancreas, or gallbladder problems. Genetic disorders, medicines such as acetaminophen, or excess alcohol use may also cause jaundice.

Normal Jaundice

What other signs and symptoms may occur with jaundice?

  • Tea-colored urine
  • Pale or gray bowel movements
  • Itching
  • Fatigue or unexplained weight loss
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Confusion

How is jaundice diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask how long you have had symptoms. He will ask what medicines you take and how much alcohol you drink. He will also ask if you recently had surgery, an injury, or a blood transfusion. Tell him if you or anyone in your family has a history of jaundice or liver disease. Your healthcare provider will order blood and urine tests to measure your bilirubin levels. You may need other tests to find the cause of your jaundice.

How is jaundice treated?

Your healthcare provider will try to find and treat the cause of your jaundice. Medicine may be given to decrease bilirubin levels and reduce itching. Your healthcare provider may have you stop taking a medicine if it is causing your symptoms. You may need one or more procedures to find or remove a blockage in your pancreas or gallbladder.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Drink more liquids as directed. Liquids help you stay hydrated and urinate more. This helps prevent harm to your kidneys. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Eat foods low in fat. Healthy low-fat foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. These foods are easier to digest and may help reduce your symptoms.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol harms your liver and may make your symptoms worse.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You begin to have tea-colored urine or pale, gray bowel movements.
  • Your skin and eyes become more yellow, or other symptoms get worse.
  • You are confused, or others notice changes in your behavior.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have severe abdominal pain or a fever.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded or faint.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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