Jaundice is the most common of all liver disorders. It refers to the accumulation and retention of bilirubin in the skin and other tissues and it results from an obstruction in the bile duct, or the loss of function of the bile -producing liver cells. The disease frequently affects children, even during their tender age.
Bile is a vital digestive fluid which is essential for proper nutrition. In exercises a most favourable influence on the general process of digestion. It also prevents decaying changes in food. If the bile is prevented from entering the intestines, there is an increase in gases and other products. Normally the production of the bile and its flow is constant.
The symnptoms of ojaundice are extreme weakness, headache, fever, loss of appetite, undue fatigue, severe constipation, nausea and yellow coloration of the eyes, tongue, skin and urine. As the bile is bitter, all food stuff the patient receives into his mouth tastes bitter to him. He may also feel a dull pain in the liver region. In case of severe jaundice, the saliva will also become yellow and thick.
Jaundice is indicative of the malfunctioning of the liver. It may be caused by an obstruction of the bile ducts which discharge bile salts and pigment into the intestine. The bile duct obsutrction may result from conditions like viral hepatitis, amoebic hepatitis, worms obstruction, falciparum malariae and liver abscess. The bile then gets mixed with blood and this gives a yellow pigmentation to the skin.
Children may also be affected by jaundice in case of severe vomiting or use of strong purgatives or in case of severe formentation and gripping by worms. In all these cases, jaundice will occur, when the pain spreads further in the stomach and bowels. Intermittent fevers of long duration, and malarial fevers can also result in persistent jaundice, especially if the child has had several relapses of malaria attendant with much vomiting or if his intestine has become extremely weak due to violent and long continuance of the disease.
The simple form of jaundice can be cured rapidly by following proper diet. Recovery will, however, be slow in serious cases caused by obstruction or pressure in the bile ducts. The child-patient should rest in bed till the acute symptoms subside. He should not be given any solid fods for the first few days of the treatment. He may be given plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable juices. Fruits and vegetables which can be used for juices are lemon, grapes, pear, tomato, carrot, beet and sugarcane. If possible, a small warm-water enema should be administered daily during this period to ensure regular bowel elimination so as to prevent the absorption of decomposed material into the bloodstream.
After the severity of the decease is over, the child may be given a simple and well-balanced diet according to his age. The emphasis should be on fresh juicy fruits such as orange, apple,pinapple, grapes, papaya and mango, and vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek and carrots. He should avoid all fats like ghee, butter, cream and oils for atelast two weeks and thereater their consumption should be kept down to the minimum. Digestive disturbances must be avoided. No food with a tendency to ferment or putrefy in the lower intestines like pulses and legumes should be included inthe diet.
Several home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of jaundice. One of the most effective of these is the use of green leaves or raddish (muli). The leaves should be pounded and their juice extracted . It should be strained through a clean piece of muslin before use. About 60 to 80 ml. of this juice, depending on the age, should be given to the child-patient three times daily. It induces healthy appetite and proper evacuation of bowels and this results in gradual decrease of the trouble.
Use of tomatoes is a good remedy for jaundice. Half a glass of fresh tomato juice, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, taken early in the morning, is effective.
A mixture of almonds (badam), dried dates (chhuhara) and cardamom (chotti ilachi) is regarded as an effective remedy for jaundice. Four kernels of almond, one dried date and two small cardamoms should be soaked overnight in water. The outer coating of the almond kernels and the inner seeds of dried dates should be removed the next morning and the whole material should be rubbed into a fine paste. Then 25 grams of sugar should be mixed in it and the patient should lick this mixture.
Sugarcane juice , mixed with lime juice , can hasten recovery from jaundice. Half a glass of this juice, mixed with half a lime, may be given tothe child twice daily. It is, however, very essential that the juice must be purepreferably prepared at home. Resistance is low in jaundice and any infected beverage could make matters worse.
Lemon (bara nimbu) is also beneficial in the treatment of jaundice. The patient should be given 50 ml of lemon juice, mixed with water several times a day. It will protect the damaged liver cells.
Barley (jau) water consumed several times during the day is another good remedy for this disease. Half a cup of barlye should be boiled in one and a half litre of water and simmered for three hours.
Other measures found beneficial in the treatment of jaundice include hot fomentation or alternate hot and cold compresses over liver area for 15 minutes every three to six hours and heating compress at 600F renewed every 30 minutes during interval. Older children may also be encouraged to take prolonged neutral ; immersion bath once daily and steam for 15 minutes daily. The procedure for these treatments have been outlined in the Appendix.