Pancreatitis

What Is Pancreatitis?

The pancreas is a large gland that aids in the digestive process. It releases powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine to help digest food and it also releases insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These two hormones help the body regulate the way it processes sugar for energy. Pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes inflamed and is inhibited from performing its essential functions.

Acute pancreatitis is the sudden, temporary inflammation of the pancreas. Most cases of acute pancreatitis are completely resolved with the right kind of treatment.

Chronic pancreatitis typically develops slowly and can last much longer. Chronic pancreatitis is usually associated with heavy alcohol consumption.

What Causes Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes mentioned above activate prematurely and begin to irritate and attack the pancreas. The main conditions and habits that cause pancreatitis are:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Gallstones
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Infection
  • Certain medications
  • Family history of pancreatitis
  • Overactive parathyroid gland
  • High triglyceride levels in the blood
  • High calcium levels
  • Abdominal injuries
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Trauma

What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatitis?

The main symptoms of pancreatitis can include:

  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Upper abdominal pain that radiates to your back, especially after eating
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain that worsens after eating
  • Oily, smelly stools
  • Abdomen is tender to the touch
  • Swollen abdomen

What Are The Treatments For Pancreatitis?

Acute Pancreatitis

Treatment for acute pancreatitis typically involves IV fluids, pain medications, and fasting to rest your pancreas. If the pancreatitis is severe enough then surgery may be necessary to remove the dead or damaged tissue if an infection develops.

If the acute pancreatitis is caused by gallstones, the pancreatitis may be treated by surgical removal of the gallbladder.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Treatment for chronic pancreatitis involves:

  • Procedures to remove bile duct obstructions
  • Pancreas surgery
  • Treatment for alcohol dependence
  • Administration of enzymes to improve digestion
  • Adjusted diet – usually low fat
  • Stop drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Stop smoking
  • Insulin
  • Low-fat diet