Jaundice

Jaundice means yellowish discolouration of the skin and eyes. The discolouration is caused by increased levels of yellow bilirubin in the blood.

Overview

Jaundice means yellowish discolouration of the skin and eyes. The discolouration is caused by increased levels of yellow bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is a noticeable symptom that requires clarification rather than an actual disease. It can have various different causes. Examples include liver and blood disorders or bile duct obstructions.

Symptoms

Causes and treatment

Causes

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Blood test (depending on suspicions)
  • Identification of antibodies in the blood (hepatitis)
  • Urine test and stool analysis
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • Imaging tests of bile and pancreatic ducts
  • Needle biopsy of the liver (removal of tissue samples)
Possible therapies
  • Treatment is dictated by the identified cause

What can I do myself?

  • Regular exercise, healthy lifestyle
  • Moderate or no consumption of alcohol
  • For frequent travellers: hepatitis A vaccination (discuss with doctor)
  • Don’t drink/eat contaminated water/food
  • Follow the safer sex rules (protection against infection)
    • Always use a condom or femidom during sexual intercourse
    • Don't get sperm or blood (including menstrual blood) in your mouth, and don’t swallow

When to see a doctor?

  • Yellowish discolouration of eyes or skin
  • Severe itching
  • Weight loss
  • Dark brown urine
  • Pale stools

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health; Vaccinations and prevention
www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en

Foundation for Liver Diseases (Stiftung für Leberkrankheiten)
www.swissliver.ch/en

Synonyms

jaundice, icterus, gall sickness, yellow skin

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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