Jaundice describes a yellowish tinge to the skin, whites of the eyes and mucus membranes and is caused by a build up of bilirubin in the blood and tissues.

The liver removes old blood cells, forming bilirubin and helps break it down so that it can be removed by the body via the stools. When too much bilirubin builds up, jaundice occurs. It can also make urine appear dark or brown coloured.

Bilirubin levels are an indication of how efficiently the liver is working and are included in the panel of blood tests we regularly have. Bilirubin can increase if there is an obstruction in the bile ducts or if the liver is cirrhotic.

Fat-soluble vitamin replacement is necessary in jaundiced patients. See also diet.

Reviewed 10/05/12

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