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Jaundice is yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes. It is caused by a pigment, or colouring, called bilirubin that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. A healthy liver removes the pigment from your blood. If the liver is not working right, the pigment can build up in the blood and get into the skin and other tissues. Many diseases can cause jaundice, including hepatitis, gallstones, and liver damage from heavy drinking over a long time. Cancer of the pancreas also can cause it. Some medicines that can damage the liver also cause jaundice.
The treatment for jaundice depends on the cause. You may need medicine to treat an infection. Or you may need to have your gallbladder removed. Some people need to stop drinking alcohol. If another disease is causing jaundice, treating the disease will cure the jaundice. If a medicine you are taking is causing jaundice, your doctor may switch you to another one.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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