Jaundice in Adults
(Hyperbilirubinemia)

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

Can jaundice in adults be prevented?

Certain conditions leading to jaundice can be prevented, whereas others may be less preventable. However, there are certain measures that can be taken in order to decrease the risk of developing jaundice.

  • Take medications as instructed in order to prevent potential liver damage or unintentional overdose. Individuals with certain medical conditions (for example, G6PD deficiency or cirrhosis) should avoid certain medications altogether. Discuss medications with your health care professional.
  • Avoid high-risk behaviors such as unprotected intercourse or intravenous drug use, and implement universal precautions when working with blood products and needles. This can decrease your risk of developing hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • Consider being vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is currently no available vaccine against hepatitis C.
  • Avoid potentially contaminated food products or unsanitary water, as this may decrease your risk of developing hepatitis A.
  • When travelling to areas where malaria is endemic, take the recommended precautions and prophylactic medications in order to prevent the development of malaria.
  • Consume alcohol responsibly and only in moderation. This can prevent alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis and pancreatitis, among other conditions. Certain individuals will need to avoid alcohol altogether.
  • Avoid smoking, as it is a risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer, as well as many other malignancies.

What is the prognosis for an adult with jaundice?

The prognosis for individuals with jaundice depends on the underlying cause of the condition. There are certain conditions that carry an excellent prognosis with individuals making a full recovery. However, more serious causes of jaundice can sometimes be fatal despite medical or surgical intervention. The development and severity of complications will also determine an individual's prognosis, as will a patient's underlying health and comorbidities (presence of other diseases). Therefore, a case-by-case assessment by your health care professional is necessary in order to determine a more accurate prognosis.

REFERENCES:

Kasper, Dennis L., et al. "Harrison's Principles of Intern"al Medicine. 19th ed." United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2015.

Roche SP, Kobos R. Jaundice in the Adult Patient." American Family Physician. 2004Jan15;69(2):299-304.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2016
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