Jaundice is a condition in which an excess of bilirubin builds up in the blood and causes the skin and eyes to turn a yellowish color. Bilirubin is a byproduct of the process by which the liver removes dead red blood cells. Excess bilirubin can be caused by a number of health problems, many of which are serious. Jaundice with fever can be a sign of malaria, acute pancreatitis or certain liver problems.
Malaria is a tropical disease in which red blood cells are destroyed by parasites. As the liver works to remove the dead blood cells, it forms bilirubin faster than it can be broken down and removed from the body. Malaria can result in jaundice with fever, nausea, anemia and flu-like symptoms. Suspected cases of malaria should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible to avoid complications up to and including death.
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Acute pancreatitis, or sudden inflammation of the pancreas, is another potential cause of jaundice with fever. Pancreatitis may have a number of different causes, including infection or damage to the pancreas from trauma or alcohol abuse. Other symptoms of pancreatitis include severe pain in the upper-left portion of the abdomen. Patients who may have pancreatitis should also see a doctor.
Jaundice with fever may also be an indication that the liver is not functioning properly and is therefore unable to dispose of bilirubin. A common cause of decreased liver function is hepatitis, or swelling of the liver. Hepatitis may result from long-term liver damage, such as that caused by alcoholism, in which case it does not usually result in fever. Some cases of hepatitis, however, are viral or bacterial, which may lead to fever as the body attempts to fight off the infection.
Decreased liver function can also be a result of glandular fever, sometimes known as mononucleosis or simply mono. Patients with glandular fever usually experience extreme fatigue, swollen glands, and flu-like symptoms. Jaundice is not present in all cases of glandular fever and is usually mild when present.
Since many of the conditions that cause jaundice with fever can be dangerous, patients experiencing these symptoms should seek advice from a medical professional. The exact cause may be difficult to determine without a full medical exam. This will often including blood tests.