Jaundice threat

Summer is a perfect time to travel, relax and do outdoor activities but it also means increasing risks of getting infectious diseases easily. Many illnesses are very common and the main cause of hospital visits during summer is because of water and food borne diseases. Jaundice is a common disease during summer. There is a fear of jaundice epidemic if precaution and protection are not adopted in day to day life.

Jaundice is a term used to describe the yellowish pigmentation of the skin and white part of eyes. This is due to the increased amount of pigment called bilirubin in blood. Actually jaundice is not a disease but rather a sign of an underlying diseases process. It is a medical condition in which the body makes too much bilirubin.

Jaundice is the most prevalent infection in Nepal during summer. Many healthy babies have some form of jaundice during the first week of life. However, it can happen at any age and may be a sign of blood diseases, genetic syndromes and liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver cancers.

It causes the yellowish discoloration of the body; signs and symptoms depend on the underlying disease process which may include light colored stools, dark urine, itching of skin, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, headache, weakness, confusions etc. In newborns as the bilirubin level rises it will typically progress from the head to the trunk and then to the hands and feet. Additional symptoms include poor feeding, lethargy, high pitch of crying and seriousness.

Early diagnosis and treatment of jaundice is a major tool for the prevention of many other complications of liver diseases.  But in Nepal, especially in rural areas, people still visit witch doctors to cure jaundice. Communities in the rural areas still have a profound faith in witchcraft and use it to address problems like jaundice.

Complication of jaundice may be life threatening which includes sepsis, liver cirrhosis, renal and liver failure. Treatment of jaundice depends upon the types of jaundice and other underlying diseases. Treatment of jaundice typically requires proper diagnosis of the specific cause in order to select suitable treatment options. Treatment would target the specific cause rather than the jaundice itself. Jaundice is related to the function of liver, so it is essential to maintain this vital organ health by eating balanced diet, hygienic food/water, regular exercise and avoiding alcohol as well as smoking.