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Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin, the whites of the eyes and other membranes. It is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, an otherwise harmless by-product of the processing of dead red blood cells by the spleen that is usually processed by the liver into other harmless by-products. It can have several causes, but it is a classic sign of liver failure and, at least in adults, always indicates a serious underlying condition.

Jaundice indicates one of three things:

- That too many red blood cells are being destroyed, overwhelming the ability of the liver to cope with the bilirubin.

- That the liver is no longer processing bilirubin, a classic sign of liver failure and liver dysfunction caused by hepatitis or malaria.

- That the liver is processing the bilirubin, but the by-products are not being properly disposed of in the bile. This can be caused by a blockage of the bile duct.

Jaundice at Wikipedia