Itching or cholestasis - what's the difference

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Pruritus or cholestasis?

itch o cholestasis? The doubt may indeed arise as itching is one of the symptoms of cholestasis, but fortunately the two are not always connected. Let's do some clarity.

In this article

  • What is cholestasis?
  • Itching or cholestasis: the difference

What is cholestasis?

Cholestasis is a condition associated with various pathologies that involves a strong reduction or even stopping (stasis, in fact) of flow of bile, the substance secreted by the liver which plays an important role in digestion and the breakdown of bilirubin.

The impairment of bile flow in fact pours this bilirubin into the blood, resulting in obvious symptoms such as:

  • Jaundice (skin and eyes turning yellowish)
  • itch 
  • I made clear and bad smelling
  • Urine that is too light

All of these symptoms are clear indicators of something wrong with the liver or pancreas.

The causes of cholestasis

The triggering reasons for this condition can be of two types: intrahepatic (inside the liver) or extrahepatic (i.e. originating outside the liver) causes.

  • Cause intraepatiche: hepatitis, hormonal effects of pregnancy (cholestasts gravidarum), inflammation of the bile ducts.
  • Cause extraepatiche: stones or narrowing of the bile ducts, tumors or infections of the pancreas.

Bilirubin: cos'é?

La bilirubin it's a yellowish pigment present in bile which forms a waste product caused by the degradation ofhemoglobin in red blood cells. This substance is produced from the spleen, accumulates in the bile and then passes to the liver where its chemical composition changes.

When found in the spleen bilirubin is called live and it is not water-soluble, when it is then changed by the liver it becomes direct and can be filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. When there is too high a concentration of bilirubin in the body, the most obvious symptoms are dark urine, I made clear e jaundice.

This condition should not be underestimated because it can indicate pathologies such as hepatitis, gallstones or biliary diseases.

Read also: Pregnancy cholestasis, symptoms and treatments

Itching or cholestasis: the difference

Itching is therefore one of the symptoms of cholestasis, but not all itching is caused by it.

In fact, itching can be due to:

  • Skin disorders: is the most common cause. Dermatitis, mycosis, urticaria, are all diseases (not very serious) that make us scratch
  • Systemic pathologies: are the diseases that affect the organs of our body. Allergic reactions also fall into this category.
  • Reactions to drugs and chemicals: the medicines we take can cause itching. And the liver has nothing to do with it.

In most cases, itching it must not cause alarm unless accompanied by other joint symptoms such as pain, excessive fatigue or weight loss not justified by diets or the like.

SOURCES: msdmanuals; NHS

Read also: Itching in pregnancy: how to relieve it, when to worry

  • pregnancy cholestasis
  • intraepatic cholestasis
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