I had just had the respirator removed after aspirating during surgery. I had been in a medically induced coma for three weeks with ARDS, or acute respiratory distress syndrome. I was moved from ICU to the surgical floor. My friend came to visit me, and the first thing she said was, “You look so tan.” I had been in the hospital for months. I wasn’t tan, I had jaundice.
How Do You Develop Adult Jaundice? My daughter developed mild jaundice during her first week of life. The doctor told me to put her in indirect sunlight. I developed jaundice while I was hospitalized for months due to cancer. How do adults develop jaundice?
How Stuff Works, states that jaundice is caused by an excessive build up of bilirubin. An adult liver if functioning properly should be able to process the bilirubin. While harmless to infants if treated, jaundice in adults often points to a more serious medical conditions, and can be a symptom of a potentially fatal disease. If you have developed jaundice as an adult, you need to find out why.
A common reason for jaundice in adults is that the liver is not functioning properly. In my case, I was going through cancer, unable to eat for about six months, developed respiratory distress, was on dialysis, had gallstones,and a slight fatty diffusion of the liver (I’m happy to report, I’m doing much better now and at home with my children). Jaundice in adults can be caused by cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, malaria, pancreatic cancer,a bile duct being blocked by a tumor, or even gallstones. Just because you have jaundice as an adult, it doesn’t mean you have a deadly disease but it is a sign that something is wrong. Go to the doctor!
What Are the Symptoms of Jaundice? In my case, I was not aware of having jaundice until I woke up from the medically induced coma. My skin was absolutely pumpkin orange. I wasn’t immediately alarmed because I had been so ill that orange seemed to be an improvement from gray. I also had very dark urine (sorry to be so graphic), and a yellowing of the whites of my eyes. Infants generally have the same type of symptoms. If you notice these signs in yourself (or your baby or young child), you need to seek medical attention promptly. Babies can be treated for jaundice itself, while adults must treat the reason for the jaundice.
What Are Treatments For Adult Jaundice? Treating adult jaundice will solely depend on the reason you developed jaundice in the first place. Treating jaundice in a new baby is pretty easy and straightforward in most cases. With adults, your doctor will have to determine why you have too much bilirubin. Don’t be afraid. Just because you have jaundice, it doesn’t mean you’re having liver failure or cancer. Many of my body’s systems were shutting down and while I still have health issues; my jaundice cleared up as I began to heal and my liver began to function properly again. I also had to have my gall bladder removed at a later date.
Discovery Health (How Stuff Works), states that, “In adults, jaundice itself can’t be treated; the underlying cause must be addressed in order to rid the skin of its yellow coloring. Because jaundice in adults can be caused by a variety of conditions, treatments vary widely. To treat cirrhosis of the liver, for example, avoiding alcohol and taking certain medications can help improve the disease, although there is no cure. For different hepatitis strains, a doctor may prescribe medications and monitor the liver’s condition.”
I still have a fatty diffusion of the liver, which can be a sign of pre-cirrhosis (I don’t drink. It is caused by malnutrition, in my case), although my doctor said I shouldn’t worry too much about it. He told me that in 20 years of practicing medicine, he has seen my condition turn into full blown cirrhosis only one time. Removing my gall bladder completely eradicated my jaundice, to my knowledge. If I am still slightly jaundiced, it isn’t detectable by looking at me. So, just because you have adult jaundice, it doesn’t mean that it s irreversible.
Take Action: I cannot stress enough that adult jaundice is pointing to a possibly serious medical condition. Although no one likes to face health problems, it really is better to know what’s going on with your body so that you can help it function properly, if it cannot do it on it’s own. In many cases, adult jaundice can be reversed or completely controlled by treating the underlying problem. Take action! Go to the doctor and be your own health advocate. Best of luck; wishing you good health.