Doctor Umm-e-Saarab Attariyyah
Jaundice is when the fibres and fluids of the body and skin become yellow. This yellow colour is more visible in the skin and the whites of the eyes, and it is caused by high levels of bilirubin in the body and blood.
Jaundice in new-borns (neonatal jaundice)
When children are born, the number of red blood cells in their bodies is very high, however, after birth, there isn’t a great need for these red blood cells (which contain haemoglobin), which transport oxygen from one area to another, as compared to what was required in the mother’s womb. Therefore, these red blood cells break down and the haemoglobin which is present within them is released and changes into bilirubin, thus, its levels increase, and this mostly takes place in the liver. New-born babies have jaundice and this is not harmful, however, there are still some reasons which cause levels of bilirubin to go extremely high, and this necessitates taking the baby to a doctor and getting some tests done.
In such a case, a possible cure which can be carried out at home is to give the baby as much of the mother’s milk as possible. Jaundice causes the skin and eyes of the baby to become yellow, which causes the child to remain in a state of sleepiness. At times, if the jaundice is severe, the child is affected by a disorder known as kernicterus, and this can damage the brain and hearing of the child. This is rare, but such babies should be immediately taken to a doctor. The doctor will examine the child and carry out a simple blood test (liver function test) in order to check levels of bilirubin. In light of the test results, the doctor will formulate a treatment plan.
Treatment with Phototherapy/light therapy
In this form of treatment, the child’s clothes are removed, his eyes are covered and then he is brought before a special type of light whose rays are absorbed by the skin and blood of the child. These rays of light change the bilirubin into a form which can be dissolved in water, and then the child’s body expels this through the urine or faeces.
This method of treatment can also be performed at home via the light of the sun. If the jaundice is less severe, then by exposing the child’s body to the initial and final rays of sunlight, i.e. as soon as the sun rises until 20 minutes after, and then from 20 minutes before sunset until sunset, this will cause the jaundice to decrease.
Some important points
1. During the initial days after birth, the baby should be given the mother’s milk frequently, as this helps reduce the risk of severe jaundice.
2. If the baby appears to be very lethargic and inactive, is not drinking its milk properly, signs of dehydration are visible in him, the child is being sick, or if he has a fever, then contact a doctor at once.
3. If the doctor requests you to come to the hospital again after the treatment in order to check the child’s levels of bilirubin, then make sure you act upon the guidance of the doctor.
Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. The liver is that part of the body which aids in the digestion of food, and hepatitis affects the proper functioning of the liver. The liver removes excretory products and toxins from the body, absorbs necessary nutrients into the blood, and it also produces energy. If any problems arise in the liver, this can also result in jaundice.
Hepatitis in children is usually caused by a virus, which has various types, however, the most common type in children is hepatitis A. These are some of the symptoms that can appear in young children:
1. Flu-like symptoms, for example, headache and fever
2. Severe tiredness
4. Stomach problems
5. Lack of appetite
6. Dark urine
8. Yellowing of the skin and eyes
9. Pain in the area beneath the ribs towards the liver, i.e towards the right, and muscle pain.
These germs are inconsequential in older children, and these symptoms do not commonly manifest.
Hepatitis A usually spreads through food and water which contain excretory products, and this includes milk, raw vegetables and unwashed fruits.
Besides this, these germs can also spread by not washing the hands with soap after changing nappies and then using those same hands to handle food products and feeding children, or by eating fish from dirty water, from which germs enter the body and attack the liver.
Treatment for Hepatitis A
Take care of children properly in the home, as there are no medications for hepatitis A. If your child is weak and lethargic, then allow him to remain in his bed and to rest. In order to protect your child from dehydration, continue to give him small amounts water after short intervals. If the child is vomiting, then give him some medication for that after consulting with a doctor. The body’s immune system will fight off the virus by itself, and children usually feel better after a week or two. Also, hepatitis A does not cause much damage to the liver, whereas, B and C are considered poisonous forms of hepatitis, which damage the liver and require treatment for a long period of time.
Prevention through diet and vaccination
Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B are available, and all members of the family should have the vaccination. Additionally, wash hands properly with soap and thoroughly wash utensils from which food is consumed too; this can prevent the virus from spreading.
1. Hepatitis prevents the liver from functioning properly.
2. Hepatitis A is the common form of hepatitis found in children, and after some weakness and tiredness, the affected person usually recovers after 2 weeks.
3. Treat your child after consulting with a doctor, as children usually recover quickly without any long term damage.
4. You can protect yourself and your family from hepatitis A and B by getting vaccinated, observing cleanliness, and by using clean water and the correct medication.