It's no secret that sickle cell has a lot of symptoms that manifest themselves due to the nature of the disease caused by the sickle shaped red blood cells. Symptoms include but are not limited to stroke, priapism, acute chest syndrome and of course painful crisis.
Jaundice in sickle cell is another common symptom and it is a situation where there is yellowing of the skin, eyes and mouth which is caused by the inability of the liver to filter out the sickle cells quickly enough when they die. For many SC patients, jaundice may be the most visible manifestation of their disease and so naturally carry with it many negative impacts like low self esteem and isolation.
My late brother suffered from jaundice/yellowing of his eyes and dark colored urine pretty much all his life but my sister has not experienced it as much or at all. There are several treatments that doctors can perform on infants to lower the level of bilirubin (a substance in the blood and body's tissues and is of a yellow pigment formed by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver) in a baby's blood if jaundice does not disappear on its own within 2 or 3 weeks. Jaundice in sickle cell can be mild, moderate or severe and if the latter is the case, babies may need to stay longer in the newborn nursery or readmitted to the hospital.
Jaundice in sickle cell is classified into 3 categories:
1. Pre-hepatic jaundice - which is due to increased rate of haemolysis i.e the breakdown of red blood cells
2. Hepatocellular jaundice - which is due to any infection in the liver. It can be due to infection or exposure to a harmful substance like alcohol
3. Post hepatic jaundice - which is also called obstructive jaundice and is caused by an interruption to the drainage of bile in the biliary system
There is no treatment for jaundice in sickle cell but it can be managed by managing its symptoms and causes like having regular blood transfusions to replace the red blood cells, avoiding alcohol and having surgery to unblock the bile duct system. Prevention of jaundice is also not possible because it can be caused by a wide range of conditions but by taking certain precautions, the risk of developing jaundice may be minimized.
I hope this information helps someone out there but for more information on jaundice or jaundice in sickle cell, you can check out this website
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