What Is Pancreatitis?
It is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is a long, flat gland located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach.
The pancreas produces hormones that regulate how your body processes sugar (glucose)and enzymes that help with digestion.
Acute Pancreatitis occurs when Pancreatitis appears suddenly and lasts for days. Pancreatitis can also occur as chronic Pancreatitis, which is Pancreatitis that occurs over a long period.
Mild cases of Pancreatitis may resolve on their own, but severe cases can result in life-threatening complications.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatitis?
The signs and symptoms of Pancreatitis differ depending on the type you have.
Signs and symptoms of acute Pancreatitis include:
-Upper abdominal discomfort
Pain in your abdomen that transmits along to your back
-Pain in the abdomen that worsens after eating
-A rapid pulse
The following are signs and symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis:
Upper abdominal discomfort
Losing weight without making an effort
Smelly, oily stools (steatorrhea)
When should you see a doctor?
If you have persistent abdominal pain, make an appointment with your doctor. If your abdominal pain is so bad that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position, seek medical attention right away.
What are the causes of Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis happens when digestive enzymes become activated while still in the pancreas, irritating and inflaming the pancreatic cells.
Damage to the pancreas can occur with repeated bouts of acute Pancreatitis, leading to chronic Pancreatitis. Scar tissue can occur in the pancreas, causing it to stop working. A malfunctioning pancreas can cause digestion issues and diabetes.
Various conditions, including: can cause Pancreatitis.
-Surgery on the abdomen
-Hypercalcemia is a condition characterized by elevated calcium levels in the blood, which can be caused by an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism)
-High blood triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia)
-An abdominal injury
-Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which is used to treat gallstones, can also cause Pancreatitis.
A cause for Pancreatitis is not always found.
What are the risk factors of Pancreatitis?
The following factors increase your risk of Pancreatitis:
-Excessive alcohol consumption: According to research, heavy alcohol users are at a higher risk of Pancreatitis.
-Cigarette smoking: Smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop chronic Pancreatitis. The good news is that quitting smoking reduces your risk by roughly half.
Obesity: Obesity increases your risk of Pancreatitis.
-Pancreatitis in the family: The role of genetics in chronic Pancreatitis is becoming more widely recognized. If you have a family member who has the condition, your chances of developing it increase, especially when combined with other risk factors.
What are the complications of Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis can cause serious complications such as:
-Pseudocyst: Fluid and debris can accumulate in cystlike pockets in your pancreas due to acute Pancreatitis. When a large pseudocyst ruptures, it can cause internal bleeding and infection.
-Infection: Acute pancreatitis can expose your pancreas to bacteria and infection. Pancreatic infections are severe and necessitate intensive treatment, such as surgery to remove infected tissue.
-Kidney failure: Acute pancreatitis can result in kidney failure, which can be treated with dialysis if severe and persistent.
-Breathing issues: Acute Pancreatitis can cause chemical changes in your body that affect lung function, causing oxygen in your blood to fall dangerously low.
-Diabetes: Chronic Pancreatitis can cause damage to insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, which can lead to diabetes, a disease that impacts how your body uses blood sugar.
-Malnutrition: Both acute and chronic Pancreatitis can cause your pancreas to produce fewer enzymes needed to break down and process nutrients from food. Even if you eat the same foods or the same amount of food, this can result in malnutrition, diarrhea, and weight loss.
-Pancreatic cancer: Chronic Pancreatitis, which causes long-term inflammation in the pancreas, is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer.
How is Pancreatitis diagnosed?
Acute Pancreatitis is diagnosed by measuring two digestive enzymes in your blood: amylase and lipase. High levels of these two enzymes indicate that you have acute Pancreatitis.
Other tests that may be performed include:
-Pancreatic function testing to determine whether your pancreas is producing enough digestive enzymes.
-Ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI scans that produce images of your pancreas
-ERCP: A long tube with a camera on end is used by your doctor to examine your pancreas and bile ducts.
-Biopsy: This is a procedure in which your doctor uses a needle to extract a small piece of pancreas tissue to be studied.
How to treat Pancreatitis?
Initial hospital treatments may include:
-Fasting: You will not be able to eat for a few days while in the hospital to allow your pancreas to heal.
Once your pancreas inflammation is under control, you can start drinking clear liquids and eating bland foods. You will be able to return to your regular diet after some time.
If your Pancreatitis worsens and you still have pain when eating, your doctor may advise you to use a feeding tube to help you get nutrition.
-Pain relievers: Pancreatitis can be excruciatingly painful. The medical crew will prescribe medications to help you manage your pain.
-Intravenous (IV) fluids: Your body may become dehydrated as it devotes energy and fluids to repairing your pancreas. As a result, you will be given extra fluids through a vein in your arm during your hospital stay.
Your health care provider can treat the underlying cause of your Pancreatitis once your Pancreatitis is under control. Treatment options for Pancreatitis vary depending on the cause.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) examines your pancreas and bile ducts using a long tube with a camera at the end. The camera sends images of your digestive system to a monitor as the tube is passed down your throat.
ERCP can aid in the diagnosis and repair of the bile duct and pancreatic duct problems. ERCP can also cause acute Pancreatitis in some people, particularly the elderly.
-Gallbladder removal. If gallstones are the reason for your Pancreatitis, your doctor may advise you to have your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy).
-Pancreas surgery: You may need surgery to drain fluid from your pancreas or remove diseased tissue.
-Treatment for alcoholism: Drinking several drinks per day for many years can lead to Pancreatitis. If alcohol is the cause of your Pancreatitis, your doctor may advise you to enter an alcohol addiction treatment program. Drinking more may aggravate your Pancreatitis and lead to severe complications.
Additional therapies for chronic Pancreatitis include:
Chronic Pancreatitis may necessitate additional treatments, depending on your circumstances, such as:
-Pain management: Chronic Pancreatitis can cause abdominal pain that persists. Your doctor may recommend for you to take pain medications or refer you to a pain specialist.
-Enzymes to aid digestion. Pancreatic enzyme supplements can help your body in breaking down and processing the nutrients in your diet. With each meal, pancreatic enzymes are taken.
-Diet changes: Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can assist you in planning low-fat, nutrient-dense meals.