10 Symptoms of biliary atresia You Should Never Ignore

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10 Symptoms of biliary atresia You Should Never Ignore

Biliary atresia is a rare liver disease that occurs in infants. It is characterized by the obstruction or absence of the bile ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Without proper bile flow, the liver becomes damaged, leading to liver failure in infants. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of biliary atresia so that early intervention can be sought to improve the prognosis for affected infants.

In this article, we will discuss the various symptoms of biliary atresia and how they may manifest in affected infants. It is important to note that early detection and treatment of biliary atresia can significantly improve the long-term outlook for affected infants, so recognizing the symptoms is crucial.

Jaundice

One of the most common symptoms of biliary atresia is jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes. Jaundice occurs when there is a buildup of bilirubin in the blood due to the inability of the liver to excrete it properly. In infants with biliary atresia, jaundice typically appears within the first few weeks of life and may be the first sign of the condition. It is important for parents to be vigilant of any signs of jaundice in their newborn and seek medical attention if it is present.

Jaundice can also cause the urine to become dark in color and the stools to become pale or clay-colored. These changes in urine and stool color should also be noted and reported to a healthcare provider if jaundice is present.

Enlarged Liver

Another symptom of biliary atresia is an enlarged liver. The liver may feel firm or hard to the touch and may be noticeably larger than normal. A healthcare provider can assess the size and condition of the liver during a physical examination. An enlarged liver is a result of the liver becoming inflamed and swollen due to the accumulation of bile and the resulting damage to liver cells.

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Parents should be aware of any abnormal changes in the size or texture of their infant’s abdomen and seek medical evaluation if an enlarged liver is suspected.

Poor Weight Gain

Infants with biliary atresia may also have difficulty gaining weight or may have poor appetite. This can be due to the liver’s inability to properly process and absorb nutrients from the diet. In severe cases, this can lead to failure to thrive, a condition in which a child does not gain weight or grow at the expected rate for their age.

Parents should monitor their infant’s weight gain and feeding patterns and seek medical advice if there are concerns about poor weight gain or feeding difficulties.

Itchy Skin

Pruritus, or itchy skin, is another common symptom in infants with biliary atresia. The buildup of bile in the bloodstream can lead to itching and discomfort. Infants may scratch at their skin or become irritable due to the itchiness. It is important for parents to be aware of any signs of itching in their infant and seek medical evaluation if it is present.

Healthcare providers can provide guidance on how to alleviate itching and manage the symptoms of itchy skin in infants with biliary atresia.

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Dark Urine

Dark urine is a symptom of biliary atresia that is related to the buildup of bilirubin in the blood. The urine may appear dark yellow or brown in color due to the presence of excess bilirubin. This change in urine color should be noted by parents and reported to a healthcare provider if jaundice is present.

It is important for healthcare providers to monitor the urine color of infants with biliary atresia as part of their overall assessment and management of the condition.

Behavior Changes

Some infants with biliary atresia may exhibit changes in behavior, such as irritability, fussiness, or difficulty sleeping. These behavior changes can be a result of discomfort from symptoms such as itching or abdominal pain. It is important for parents to be attentive to their infant’s behavior and seek medical advice if any significant changes are observed.

Healthcare providers can provide guidance on managing behavior changes and ensuring the comfort of infants with biliary atresia.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain or discomfort can also be a symptom of biliary atresia in infants. This can manifest as fussiness, crying, or a reluctance to be touched or picked up. It is important for parents to be aware of any signs of abdominal pain in their infant and seek medical evaluation if it is present.

Healthcare providers can assess the source of the abdominal pain and provide guidance on managing discomfort in infants with biliary atresia.

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Failure to Thrive

As mentioned earlier, poor weight gain and feeding difficulties can lead to failure to thrive in infants with biliary atresia. This is a serious concern and should be addressed promptly by seeking medical attention. Failure to thrive can have long-term implications for an infant’s growth and development, so early intervention is crucial.

Healthcare providers can work with parents to develop a plan to support the nutritional needs of infants with biliary atresia and ensure that they are thriving and growing appropriately.

Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue or lethargy can also be a symptom of biliary atresia in infants. The liver plays a crucial role in energy metabolism, and when it is not functioning properly, it can result in fatigue and decreased energy levels. It is important for parents to be attentive to any signs of chronic fatigue in their infant and seek medical evaluation if it is present.

Healthcare providers can assess the energy levels of infants with biliary atresia and provide guidance on managing fatigue and promoting optimal energy levels.

Frequent Illnesses

Infants with biliary atresia may be more susceptible to frequent illnesses, such as respiratory infections or gastrointestinal issues. This can be a result of the compromised immune function due to liver damage. It is important for parents to be vigilant of any signs of frequent illnesses in their infant and seek medical evaluation if it is present.

Healthcare providers can provide guidance on managing the overall health and immune function of infants with biliary atresia to reduce the risk of frequent illnesses.