Things you need to know
- Pancreas is a small organ located at the back of your abdomen. It is responsible for producing certain enzymes that aid digestion.
- Pancreatitis is a condition causing irritation and inflammation of the pancreas.
- Pancreatitis can cause varying symptoms that affect your gastrointestinal and overall health.
What is pancreatitis?
The pancreas is a long and flat gland found at the back of your abdomen. It produces certain pancreatic juices called enzymes that help in digestion by breaking down and regulating body sugar.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas gland. It can occur as an acute or a chronic condition.
Acute pancreatitis – This type of pancreatitis occurs suddenly and may last for several days.
Chronic pancreatitis – Chronic pancreatitis develops gradually over several years. It usually occurs after an episode of acute pancreatitis and causes severe symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of pancreatitis depend upon its types and may vary in every person.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Abdominal pain radiating to the back
- Stomach tenderness
- Rapid pulse
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Increased and worsening abdominal pain after eating
- Unintended weight loss
- Oily and smelly stools
Pancreatitis primarily occurs when the digestive enzymes in the pancreas become activated inside the gland itself. This can lead to the inflammation and irritation of pancreatic cells. This condition can be a result of some underlying medical condition.
Acute pancreatitis causes include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Side-effects of certain medications
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cystic fibrosis
- Infection or injury to the abdomen
Repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis can cause damage to the organ leading to chronic pancreatitis.
Common tests and procedures done to diagnose pancreatitis include:
- Blood tests
- Abdominal ultrasound
- CT scan
- Stool tests
Pancreatitis treatment is based on the cause of condition and severity of symptoms. It usually involves medicinal intervention through the following range of protocols:
- Pain relief medications
- IV fluids
- ERCP to remove bile duct obstructions
- Treatment for alcoholism
- Enzyme supplements to improve digestion
You can prevent pancreatitis by maintaining the health of your pancreas by avoiding smoking and consumption of alcohol, eating a low-fat diet and drinking more fluids.
The risk factors of pancreatitis include excessive alcohol intake, smoking, obesity, diabetes and family history of the disease.
If left untreated, pancreatitis can lead to kidney failure, breathing difficulties, pancreatic infections, diabetes, malnutrition and pancreatic cancer.