Jaundice in Adults - Treatment

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What is the treatment for jaundice in adults?

The treatment for jaundice depends entirely on the underlying cause. Once a diagnosis has been established, the appropriate course of treatment can then be initiated. Certain patients will require hospitalization, whereas others may be managed as outpatients at home.

  • In certain individuals with jaundice, the treatment will consist of supportive care and can be managed at home. For example, most cases of mild viral hepatitis can be managed at home with watchful waiting and close monitoring by your doctor (expectant management).
  • Alcohol cessation is necessary in patients with cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, or acute pancreatitis secondary to alcohol use.
  • Jaundice caused by drugs/medications/toxins requires discontinuation of the offending agent. In cases of intentional or unintentional acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose, the antidote N-acetylcysteine (Mucomyst) may be required.
  • Various medications may be used to treat the conditions leading to jaundice, such as steroids in the treatment of some autoimmune disorders. Certain patients with cirrhosis, for example, may require treatment with diuretics and lactulose.
  • Antibiotics may be required for infectious causes of jaundice, or for the complications associated with certain conditions leading to jaundice (for example, cholangitis).
  • Blood transfusions may be required in individuals with anemia from hemolysis or as a result of bleeding.
  • Individuals with cancer leading to jaundice will require consultation with an oncologist, and the treatment will vary depending on the type and extent (staging) of the cancer.
  • Surgery and various invasive procedures may be required for certain patients with jaundice. For example, certain patients with gallstones may require surgery. Other individuals with liver failure/cirrhosis may require a liver transplant.
Return to Jaundice (Adults)

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Comment from: Sterance, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: March 08

I have jaundice from a bad reaction to azithromycin. I have been yellow and itching for the last 11 weeks. I probably have another 5 weeks or so before it goes away. In truth, there is no treatment but to wait and just treat the symptoms (no fatty foods in your diet, 50mg Benadryl for itching at night). The 50mg Benadryl will stop you from losing your sanity at the ITCHING. I have also been prescribed ursodiol (which barely helps with the yellow) and questran (which barely helps with the itching). If you have the same diagnosis as me, just be happy you aren't dead; not everyone survives the bad reaction to antibiotics.

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Comment from: Donna, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 06

I am almost 55 years old. I have cirrhosis of the liver in its final stage. For the last say 6 months. I have been having itching all over, it drives me nuts! Now my eyes are turning yellow. I'm not sure how to treat jaundice. With the liver itch I find taking Chlortabs are helpful. Sometimes I use calamine lotion that helps too! It seems like the itching starts in the late afternoon.

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