Jaundice: Prevention, Symptoms and Treatment
Jaundice affects millions of people around the world each year, so it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the preventative measures, symptoms and treatment for this condition, including the use of lemon juice, turmeric, oregano, porridge, yogurt, fish and fruit juice, among others.
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What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is one of the most easily recognizable afflictions because of its most characteristic symptom – the fact that your skin begins to turn yellow. At its simplest definition, jaundice is a condition typified by high bilirubin levels in the body. However, jaundice is not a disease in and of itself; it is a symptom of another underlying problem that is causing such high bilirubin levels in the body. Therefore, the causes of jaundice are quite varied. The main types of jaundice are pre-hepatic, hepatocellular, and post-hepatic. Pre-hepatic jaundice is caused by an excessive breakdown of red blood cells, which is where bilirubin can be found. This excess bilirubin will be deposited in the tissues, causing the yellowish appearance. Hepatocellular jaundice occurs when a liver condition, such as hepatotoxicity or cirrhosis causes cell necrosis, and prevents the liver from eliminating the bilirubin it has accumulated. Finally, post-hepatic jaundice is caused when your bile duct is obstructed for some reason, making it impossible to eliminate bilirubin. For this final variety, surgery is often required to unblock the duct. All of these varieties can be caused by conditions primarily affecting the liver, and jaundice is often the first sign that something is wrong with that particular organ.
Symptoms of Jaundice
Aside from the tell-tale yellow hue of your skin, jaundice has a number of other symptoms as well, including pale stool and very dark urine. You may also have the early onset symptoms of a flu, such as chills and muscle aches, but none of the congestion of a cold. Many people also complain of itching and unexplained weight loss. Some of the less easily recognizable symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, headache, diarrhea and vomiting.
If you see any of these symptoms arise without an explanation, go to see a doctor. Some jaundice-inducing conditions can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Interrupting or slowing the metabolism of bilirubin in the body may not seem like a serious problem, but it can be life-threatening if left unchecked. Now, let’s take a look at some of the prevention and treatment methods for jaundice.
Prevention and Treatments for Jaundice
Jaundice characterised by high bilirubin levels can be prevented by avoiding alcohol and caffeine, losing weight, lowering stress levels, and including almonds, ginger, oregano and yogurt in your diet.
Obviously, one of the best ways to prevent jaundice is to prevent the underlying infections and conditions that can lead to this severe symptom. While some of the causes of jaundice are not diseases that can be vaccinated against, your liver will be in much better shape and will be better protected if you have gone through a proper round of vaccinations.
Cut Back on Alcohol
The organ affected most notably by the consumption of alcohol is the liver. While moderate amounts of drinking, such as a glass of wine each day or a cocktail once or twice a week, will not do permanent damage to your liver, and may actually increase health in certain ways (e.g., tannins and resveratrol in red wine), excessive consumption can increase your risk of liver diseases. In fact, if you go on a particularly big bender with alcohol, the yellowing of your skin and eyes can already be seen, as the liver is working overtime to try and detoxify the blood, and bilirubin begins to build up in the tissues.
No Illicit Drugs
In a similar vein to alcohol consumption, drugs and other illicit substances must also be processed by the liver, and can have extreme effects on the body. While there isn’t extensive studies done on the direct links between specific drugs and liver failure, people who regularly consume drugs tend to have weaker immune systems, poor metabolisms, and are more prone to chronic illness, such as those associated with jaundice.
Obesity is another common factor that can be seen in those who suffer from various liver conditions and diseases. Eating overly fatty foods can also increase your likelihood of developing gallstones, which can contribute to bile blockage and post-hepatic jaundice. A faster metabolism, which can be achieved through regular exercise, can also help increase the detoxifying speed and efficiency of the liver, making it less susceptible to stress, overwork and compromise.
One of the most deadly forces for human beings is often generated in their own mind – stress. Anxiety can flood the body with stress hormones and other compounds that can alter body metabolism, wear out organ systems, weaken the immune system and generally put your health in jeopardy. By reducing mental and physical stress, you can protect your organ systems, including the liver, making it less likely that you will contract a jaundice-causing condition.
Studies have directly linked excess coffee consumption to higher levels of liver conditions and liver failure, as well as the prevalence of jaundice. While caffeine can be helpful and energy-inducing in small doses, long-term coffee consumption in large doses can be harmful to gastrointestinal and liver health. Caffeine, after all, is a drug, albeit a publicly approved one.
In terms of treatment for jaundice, the simple methods are often the best. Oregano is a simple spice with a number of healthy characteristics, including antioxidants and hepato-protective elements that can prevent your liver from being weakened or vulnerable to diseases that would lead to jaundice.
One of the most valuable herbal remedies in the world is turmeric, which is chock full of antioxidants and valuable minerals that the body needs to strengthen the immune system and keep the metabolism running normally. This can be an effective preventative measure or treatment for jaundice, as it can help improve the underlying condition causing it.
Once you have determined that you have jaundice, it is important to regulate your diet to account for this. Gradually, your bilirubin levels will decrease, and you can start your normal diet with lighter foods, such as yogurt, which are good for gastrointestinal health and can protect the immune system by rebalancing the bacteria in your gut.
Food like rice is important, as it doesn’t require any oil to cook, and can be very filling for the body, yet easy to digest. It is also a highly energetic food, with a good nutrient to calorie ratio. Brown rice is especially preferred for reoptimizing the body and the metabolism to counter the effects and symptoms of jaundice.
As with rice, fish is a hugely nutritious food, but it should only be boiled or steamed, not fried or grilled. You want to avoid oil, which can have unhealthy fats that can lead to obesity and increased obstruction to your bilirubin metabolizing. However, fish also contains healthy fats that the body needs to stay healthy during this time of recovery.
Fruit is naturally digested by the body very easily, and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Drinking fruit juice is an excellent way to access many of those nutrients without the fibrous material, which can be difficult to digest, for certain people. The vitamins and antioxidants in fruit juice can get your immune system back to normal and help protect the liver.
Almonds are densely packed sources of protein and beneficial fats that the body needs to stay healthy. They are also readily available and delicious to eat. You should soak the almonds overnight, then grind them into a paste and eat them, to make digestion even easier.
Another superfood that has applicability for many different health ailments, ginger is a particularly good detoxifying agent in the body, and can help eliminate many of the toxins from the body that will put extra strain on your liver. This can prevent weakening of the organ, making it less susceptible to diseases and jaundice.
Final Word of Warning: As mentioned before, jaundice is a symptom, not a condition in itself, so it is always a good idea to see a doctor if you begin to show signs of this condition. It can be indicative of more serious health problems that should be addressed immediately. These remedies and preventative measures should be used in conjunction with regular checkups and formalized treatment, when necessary.