Pancreatitis – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What Is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas got inflamed.

The pancreas is a large gland having both exocrine or endocrine functions. It is located behind your stomach and next to your small intestine. Your pancreas releases two main things which are:

  • powerful digestive enzymes which are released into your small intestine to help you digest food.
  • insulin and glucagon  released into your bloodstream. These hormones help to control your blood suger level body.

Your pancreas can be damaged when digestive enzymes got activated before your pancreas releases them.

Types of Pancreatitis

The two types of pancreatitis are acute and chronic.

  • Acute pancreatitis is quick inflammation that lasts for a small time. It can range from mild discomfort to a severe, life-threatening complications. Most of the people with acute pancreatitis recover completely after having the appropriate treatment. In severe cases, acute pancreatitis can lead to bleeding, severe tissue damage, infection, and cysts. Severe pancreatitis can also harm other vital organs such as the heartlungs, and kidneys.
  • Chronic pancreatitis is long-term inflammation. It usually occurs after an episode of acute pancreatitis. Another leading cause is lots of alcohol intake for a long period of time. Damage to your pancreas from heavy intake of alcohol may not cause symptoms for many years, but then you may abruptly have severe pancreatitis symptoms.

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis

Pancreatitis Symptoms

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis

The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar to those of acute pancreatitis. But you may also feel:

  • Consistent pain in your upper abdomen that goes to your back. This pain may be disabling.
  • Diarrhea and weight loss because your pancreas is not secreting sufficient enzymes to break down foods.
  • Upset stomach and cause vomiting

Causes of pancreatitis and Risk Factors

Causes of acute pancreatitis are :

In about 15% of people having acute pancreatitis in which the cause is unknown.

Chronic pancreatitis causes include:

In about 20% to 30% of cases, the cause of chronic pancreatitis is unknown. Chronic pancreatitis is common in men between ages 30 and 40.

Pancreatitis Complications

Pancreatitis can have severe complications such as:

  • Diabetes if there’s damage to the beta cells of pancreas that produce insulin
  • Infection of your pancreas
  • Kidney failure
  • Malnutrition if your body can’t get required nutrients from the food you eat due to lack of digestive enzymes.
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Necrosis of pancreas, when tissues die because your pancreas is not getting enough blood
  •  Breathing complications when chemical changes in your body affect your lungs.
  • Pseudocysts, when fluid deposits in pockets on your pancreas. They can burst and become infected.

Pancreatitis Diagnosis

To diagnose acute pancreatitis, your doctor perform blood test to measure two digestive enzymes: amylase and lipase. Increased levels of these two enzymes mean you probably have acute pancreatitis.

Other tests are following:

  • Pancreatic function test to determine whether your pancreas is producing the adequate amounts of digestive enzymes
  • UltrasoundCT scan, and MRI, which make pictures of your pancreas.
  • ERCP, in which your doctor uses a long tube with a camera on the end to view your pancreatic duct and bile ducts.
  • Biopsy, in which your doctor uses a needle to remove a small piece of tissue to study your pancreas.

In some cases, your doctor may do a blood test and poop to sure about your diagnosis. They may also perform a glucose tolerance test to measure damage to the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin.

Pancreatitis Treatment

Acute pancreatitis Treatment

You will probably require to stay in the hospital, where your treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics if your pancreas is infected
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids, injected through a needle
  • Low-fat diet or fasting. You might need to stop taking food for the recovery of your pancreas. In this case, you will get nutrition through a feeding tube.
  • Pain relieving medications

If your case is more severe, your treatment might include:

  • ERCP to remove gallstones if they are causing your bile or pancreatic ducts obstructions
  • Gallbladder surgery if gallstones lead to pancreatitis
  • Surgery of pancreas to clean out fluid or dead or damaged tissue

Chronic pancreatitis Treatment

If you have chronic pancreatitis, you might require more treatments,which include:

  • Insulin to treat diabetes
  • Pain medications
  • Pancreatic enzymes to help your body get required nutrients from your food
  • Surgery or procedures to relieve pain, help with drainage, or to remove obstructions.

Pancreatitis Prevention

Because many cases of pancreatitis are caused by alcohol abuse, prevention often aims on limiting how much you drink or not drinking at all. If your drinking is a concern, take advice of your doctor or health care professional about an alcohol treatment center. A support group like Alcoholics Anonymous could also help.

Quit smoking, and follow your doctor’s and dietitian’s advice about your diet, and take your medications so you will have fewer and milder pancreatitic attacks.

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