Jaundice in Adults

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Jaundice definition

Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and of the white of the eyes caused by elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia). The term jaundice is derived from the French word jaune, which means yellow. Jaundice is not a disease per se, but rather a visible sign of an underlying disease process. Jaundice is typically seen when the level of bilirubin in the blood exceeds 2.5-3 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

Jaundice in adults

Jaundice in adults can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, some of which are serious and potentially life-threatening. Any adult who develops jaundice needs to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation in order to determine its cause. Neonatal jaundice, a condition seen in newborns, is most often a benign condition that improves without serious aftereffects (sequelae).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/6/2014

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Jaundice Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Jaundice?

Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, is the yellow staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) by abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment, bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids and also may turn the urine dark. Yellowing of only the skin also can be caused by eating too many carrots or drinking too much carrot juice.