Signs and symptoms of jaundice
How does jaundice affect babies?
- Yellowing of the skin: Mild cases of jaundice may make the discolouration more difficult to see. Sometimes lighting conditions can make it more difficult to see with the naked eyes as well. You can test for jaundice in these instances by gently pressing your baby’s nose and forehead. The skin will show discolouration more easily where pressed. If the skin appears slightly lighter when pressed, this is normal. Looking at your baby under natural light is best when trying to check for any discolouration. Discolouration of the skin will intensify and appear more yellow in severe cases of jaundice. Severe cases will also show yellowing of the skin in the arms, legs and abdomen area of the body too.
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes
- The baby becomes passive and sluggish, refusing to be woken up
- Poor weight gain
- High-pitched cries
Any of the above-mentioned symptoms will need to be assessed by a medical doctor, especially if they persist for several weeks. Bilirubin levels will be checked periodically to determine whether the little one has a case of severe jaundice and excess levels of bilirubin which their little liver is finding overwhelming to metabolise.
Other underlying causes your paediatrician will want to check for in severe cases include:
- The possibility of haemorrhage (internal bleeding)
- Sepsis (an infection of the blood)
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Enzyme deficiency
- Liver malfunction
- RBC abnormalities
- Blood type incompatibility between mother and baby
How does jaundice affect adults?
- Yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes and mucous membranes (especially in the mouth)
- Dark-coloured urine or pale coloured stools
- Rectal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching skin
- Abdominal pain
- Fever or chills
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Swelling in the legs, or distension of the abdomen
- Body weakness