Yellowish staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) by abnormally blood high levels of the bile pigment bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids. Jaundice was once called the "morbus regius" (the regal disease) in the belief that only the touch of a king could cure it. When red blood cells are removed from the bloodstream, hemoglobin, the molecule in red cells that carries oxygen, is broken down into bilirubin. The bilirubin is carried to the liver and excreted into the intestine as a component of bile. Jaundice can indicate liver or gallbladder disease. When the excretion of bilirubin is hindered, excess bilirubin passes into the blood, resulting in jaundice. Inflammation or other abnormalities of liver cells hinder the excretion of bilirubin into bile. Or the bile ducts outside the liver may be blocked by a gallstone or a tumor. Jaundice can also result from the excessive breakdown of red blood cells (a process called hemolysis) and too much bilirubin is released into the bloodstream. This occurs typically in the hemolytic anemias (as opposed to the aplastic anemias in which not enough red cells are produced). Jaundice is common in newborns because there is some hemolysis during labor and delivery and the newborn's liver is immature and may not be fully up to the task of handling the bilirubin for a few days. In Gilbert syndrome, the blood bilirubin levels are slightly increased, enough to cause mild jaundice. This genetic condition is usually discovered serendipitously during routine screening tests of liver function. It causes no symptoms and no problems. The figurative use of "jaundice" in "to view things with a jaundiced eye" refers to an attitude of distaste. This may reflect the distaste with which a jaundiced person views food, since severe jaundice typically brings loss of appetite and feelings nausea. "Jaundice" is often said to have come from the French "jaune" for yellow. This is incorrect. The word "jaundice" stemmed from the Latin "galbinus" which described a light greenish-yellow color. In Old French this became "jaunisse" and, in crossing the English Channel, it became "jaundice." In French "jaundice" is still "jaunisse." The term icterus is synonymous with jaundice. A person who is icteric is jaundiced. Abnormally high blood bilirubin is termed hyperbilirubinemia.
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A yellowish staining of the integument, sclerae, deeper tissues, and excretions with bile pigments, resulting from increased levels in the plasma. SYN: icterus. [Fr. jaune, yellow]
- acholuric j. j. with excessive amounts of unconjugated bilirubin in the plasma and without bile pigments in the urine.
- anhepatic j. j. due to hemolysis, with normal function of the liver and biliary tract. SYN: anhepatogenous j..
- anhepatogenous j. SYN: anhepatic j..
- choleric j. j. with the presence of biliary derivatives in the urine; occurs in regurgitation hyperbilirubinemia.
- cholestatic j. j. produced by inspissated bile or bile plugs in small biliary passages in the liver.
- chronic acholuric j. SYN: hereditary spherocytosis.
- chronic familial j. SYN: hereditary spherocytosis.
- chronic idiopathic j. SYN: Dubin-Johnson syndrome.
- congenital hemolytic j. SYN: hereditary spherocytosis.
- familial nonhemolytic j. [MIM*143500] mild j. due to increased amounts of unconjugated bilirubin in the plasma without evidence of liver damage, biliary obstruction, or hemolysis; thought to be due to an inborn error of metabolism in which the excretion of bilirubin by the liver is defective, ascribed to decreased conjugation of bilirubin as a glucuronide or impaired uptake of hepatic bilirubin; autosomal dominant inheritance. SYN: benign familial icterus, constitutional hepatic dysfunction, Gilbert disease, Gilbert syndrome.
- hematogenous j. SYN: hemolytic j..
- hemolytic j. j. resulting from increased production of bilirubin from hemoglobin as a result of any process (toxic, genetic, or immune) causing increased destruction of erythrocytes. SYN: hematogenous j., toxemic j..
- hepatocellular j. j. resulting from diffuse injury or inflammation or failure of function of the liver cells, usually referring to viral or toxic hepatitis.
- hepatogenous j. j. resulting from disease of the liver, as distinguished from that due to blood changes.
- homologous serum j. obsolete term for viral hepatitis type B.
- human serum j. obsolete name for hepatitis transmitted parenterally, usually by blood or blood products; usually due to hepatitis B.
- infectious j. 1. SYN: Weil disease. 2. obsolete term for viral hepatitis type A.
- infective j. acute onset of malaise, fever, myalgia, nausea, anorexia, abdominal pain, and icterus caused by members of the genus Leptospira.
- leptospiral j. j. associated with infection by various species of Leptospira.
- malignant j. SYN: icterus gravis.
- mechanical j. SYN: obstructive j..
- neonatal j. SYN: physiologic j..
- j. of the newborn SYN: physiologic j..
- nonobstructive j. any j. in which the main biliary passages are not obstructed, e.g., hemolytic j. or j. due to hepatitis.
- nuclear j. SYN: kernicterus.
- obstructive j. j. resulting from obstruction to the flow of bile into the duodenum, whether intra- or extrahepatic. SYN: mechanical j..
- painless j. j. not associated with abdominal pain; usually used for obstructive j. resulting from obstruction of the common bile duct at the head of the pancreas by a tumor or impaction of a stone.
- physiologic j. a form of j. observed frequently in newborn infants in the first 1–2 weeks of life. It is caused by several factors, including a comparatively high red cell mass at birth compared with that of adults, shorter red cell life span, transiently impaired conjugation of bilirubin in the liver, and lack of gut flora (which are helpful in intestinal metabolism and excretion of bilirubin); is related to indirect (unconjugated) bilirubinemia that peaks at 2–3 days of age in normal, full-term infants and later with higher levels in preterm infants and is accentuated in breast-fed infants. SYN: icterus neonatorum, j. of the newborn, neonatal j..
- postarsphenamine j. liver toxicity, causing j., in a patient who has received arsphenamine.
- recurrent j. of pregnancy SYN: intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.
- regurgitation j. j. due to biliary obstruction, the bile pigment having been conjugated and secreted by the hepatic cells and then reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
- retention j. j. due to insufficiency of liver function or to an excess of bile pigment production; the bilirubin is unconjugated because it has not passed through the liver cells.
- spherocytic j. hemolytic j. associated with spherocytosis.
- spirochetal j. j. caused by infection with Leptospira species, usually Leptospira icterohemorrhagica.
- toxemic j. SYN: hemolytic j..

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jaun·dice 'jȯn-dəs, 'jän- n
1) a yellowish pigmentation of the skin, tissues, and certain body fluids caused by the deposition of bile pigments that follows interference with normal production and discharge of bile (as in certain liver diseases) or excessive breakdown of red blood cells (as after internal hemorrhage or in various hemolytic states) called also icterus
2) any disease or abnormal condition (as hepatitis A or leptospirosis) that is characterized by jaundice called also icterus

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a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, indicating excess bilirubin (a bile pigment) in the blood. Jaundice is classified into three types. Obstructive jaundice occurs when bile made in the liver fails to reach the intestine due to obstruction of the bile duct (e.g. by gallstones) or to cholestasis. The urine is dark, the faeces pale, and the patient may itch. Hepatocellular jaundice is due to disease of the liver cells, such as hepatitis, when the liver is unable to utilize the bilirubin, which accumulates in the blood. The urine may be dark but the faeces retain their colour. Haemolytic jaundice occurs when there is excessive destruction of red cells in the blood (see haemolysis). Urine and faeces retain their normal colour. Medical name: icterus.

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jaun·dice (jawnґdis) [Fr. jaunisse, from jaune yellow] a condition characterized by hyperbilirubinemia and deposition of bile pigments in the skin, mucous membranes, and sclera, with resulting yellow appearance of the patient; called also icterus.

Jaundice and subconjunctival hemorrhages in leptospirosis.

Medical dictionary. 2011.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jaundice — Jaun dice, v. t. To affect with jaundice; to color by prejudice or envy; to prejudice. [1913 Webster] The envy of wealth jaundiced his soul. Ld. Lytton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Jaundice — Yellowing redirects here. For the plant disease, see lethal yellowing. For paper degradation, see foxing. Icterus and icteric redirect here. For the physiological event, see Ictal. For the songbird Icteria, see Yellow breasted Chat. Jaundice… …   Wikipedia

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