What causes liver infection and jaundice?

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Offline thedoc

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What causes liver infection and jaundice?
« on: 09/04/2013 22:30:01 »
Makale Ngwenya  asked the Naked Scientists:
What causes a liver infection that causes someone to have yellow eyes and skin, how is it treated and is it common among teenagers?

Thank you very much.


Makale Ngwenya

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 09/04/2013 22:30:01 by _system »


Offline majorminor

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Re: What causes liver infection and jaundice?
« Reply #1 on: 10/04/2013 00:26:09 »
Many thought it was common in teenage girls but science soon discovered it was not jaundice but young ladies over use of their mothers foundation/fake tan  cream. I have always thought jaundice  is caused by liver failure/infection and something to do with the blood not being cleaned as efficiently as it should be but not sure at all. I can confirm that fake tan also can make people appear yellow.
I am sitting her patiently waiting for the day I have the knowledge to answer a question in a form other than bad joke. But meanwhile I am learning everyday. :)

Ah , just read it again and it asks what causes the infection. Am I right in saying alcohol abuse can sometimes do it?
« Last Edit: 10/04/2013 00:27:47 by majorminor »


Offline cheryl j

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Re: What causes liver infection and jaundice?
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2013 00:42:19 »
Jaundice is caused by high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Sometimes it is because the liver cells are damaged and cannot metabolize bilirubin and excrete it into the intestine. Sometimes there is blockage in the duct that leads from the liver to the intestine. The duct may be blocked by a gall stone from a gall bladder that also shares this duct. Hepatitis can be caused by a viral infection that damages the liver and can cause jaundice. Alcohol can damage liver cells, but jaundice usually only happens when the liver has been damaged to the point where scar tissue has replaced healthy cells (cirrhosis).

There are genetic liver diseases that people are born with that result in liver failure, but otherwise liver disease is more common in older people. Premature infants may be jaundice right after birth because their livers are immature, but it is only temporary.


Offline CliffordK

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Re: What causes liver infection and jaundice?
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2013 06:37:52 »
There are, of course, several different types of viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis A, often "fecal-oral" transmitted.  Endemic in some countries.  It is generally an acute infection, sometimes severe, but a low rate of mortality.  It generally does not cause a chronic infection.  There is an effective Hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B, often either passed through blood contact, or sexual contact.  A small percentage of people can develop a chronic infection, depending on the age and health of the individual when infected, and it can cause cirrhosis of the liver in those with a chronic infection.  There is also a Hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis C, also transmitted through blood, and IV drug use, and possibly sexually transmitted.  There is not an effective Hepatitis C vaccine.

Hepatitis D, is blood borne, but requires  a co-infection with hepatitis B, and thus also prevented by the Hep B vaccine.

Hepatitis E, like Hep A, fecal oral transmitted.  It has a lower prevalence, but a much more severe acute diseases.  China is now experimenting with a vaccine, not yet available in the USA, and presumably not in Europe either, both of which have a low incidence of the infection.

Would these infect teenagers?
Perhaps with social and lifestyle changes.  The blood borne hepatitis viruses may be acquired with sexual activity, or experimenting with IV drugs.


Offline Minerva

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Re: What causes liver infection and jaundice?
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2013 18:39:15 »
Hep C is almost impossible to transmit sexually and almost impossible to get rid of if you do get it.  But also alcohol consumption can cause liver problems, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) also causes jaundice as does auto immune hepatitis.  Anyone who is jaundiced needs to see their doctor as a matter of urgency.