Jaundice - adult

Also Known As: Jaundice - adult, Jaundice, High bilirubin, Hyperbilirubinemia

Jaundice (also known as icterus; attributive adjective: icteric) is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin, the conjunctival membranes over the sclerae (whites of the eyes), and other mucous membranes caused by hyperbilirubinemia (increased levels of bilirubin in the blood). This hyperbilirubinemia subsequently causes increased levels of bilirubin in the extracellular fluid. Concentration of bilirubin in blood plasma does not normally exceed 1 mg/dL (>17µmol/L). A concentration higher than 1.8 mg/dL (>30µmol/L) leads to jaundice. The term jaundice comes from the French word jaune, meaning yellow.

Jaundice is often seen in liver disease such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or pancreatic cancer, or less commonly be congenital in origin.

Yellow discoloration of the skin, especially on the palms and the soles, but not of the sclera and mucous membranes (i.e. oral cavity) is due to carotenemia - a harmless condition important to differentiate from jaundice.

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