Jaundice: this is Why many liver ill get yellow eyes

In the case of a jaundice of skin, eyes and mucous membranes take on a yellow color. Physicians also speak of a jaundice. Responsible for the color change is yellow-brown dye Bilirubin, the in large amounts in the body is present.

Bilirubin: a yellow Bile pigment

Bilirubin is part of bile (bile). This is formed in the liver and is mainly used for the digestion of food is important.

Bilirubin is produced than the body as a waste product of the red blood pigment hemoglobin. It is formed when the spleen “degrades old” or damaged red blood cells and the hemoglobin splits. In this Form, Bilirubin is not soluble in water. It binds in the blood of certain proteins (Albumin) and the device with the flow of blood in the liver.

In the liver arrived, coupled to the Bilirubin to glucuronic acid and is water soluble. Together with bile acids and cholesterol, and it forms the bile.

The largest part of the bile passes into the intestine and is then excreted via the stool. Small quantities of advised via the kidneys in the urine, which is why this is yellowish.

Too much Bilirubin leads to jaundice

In a healthy person, the Bilirubin concentration in the blood is low (up to 1.2 mg/dl). If in the blood, however, too much Bilirubin is present, deposited the dye in the skin, mucosa and sclera of the eye to – what from a certain concentration by the typical yellow coloration is visible. In General, the eyes are affected first.

A Bilirubin-Excess can different causes have. Most of them are found in the liver and in the bile due to:

  • If the liver cannot process the protein-bound Bilirubin a sufficient, increases the Bilirubin concentration in the blood. This is especially in the case of liver inflammation (Hepatitis) of the case.
  • If Bilirubin is processed, the bile in the bile ducts but can not properly drain, this can also cause addiction to the yellow. The causes include inflammation of the biliary tract, gallstones, or tumors. A bright chair pointed out that the Bilirubin could not be used to eliminated, since the dye then passes increasingly through the urine to the outside, is colored, the urine in the result darker.

Rare is a disease of the blood for the jaundice, is responsible. Then the body breaks down red blood cells too fast or you go too fast based on (so called hemolysis). The result is that There is so much Bilirubin that the liver cannot process it quickly enough.

When to see a doctor?

In the case of yellow-colored eyes or a yellowish skin is in any case a visit to the doctor due.

In contrast to children and adults, jaundice in newborns usually does not indicate a disease. A few days old the babies are very many red blood cells, your liver can’t break down but still fast enough. In General, the bilirubin level returns to normal within one to two weeks.


German society for combatting diseases of the stomach, intestine, liver and metabolism, and disorders of nutrition e. V. (Gastro-Liga e. V.): What you always wanted to know about jaundice and should! Counselor for patients. Online publication: www.gastro-liga.de (retrieval date: 6.11.2019)

Online information of the professional Association of German internists, e. V.: www.internisten-im-netz.de (retrieval date: 6.11.2019)

Jaundice. Online information of the Pschyrembel: www.pschyrembel.de (status: may 2017)

Baenkler, H.: Short Textbook Of Internal Medicine. Thieme, Stuttgart, 2015

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