The pancreas is an organ that is located behind the stomach and close to the small intestine. The pancreas has two main functions:
- It releases strong digestive enzymes to the small intestines to digest food that you eat.
- It also releases glucagon and insulin in the blood circulation. These hormones facilitate your body’s control of how it utilizes food for energy.
These digestive enzymes can cause damage to the pancreas if they start working before your pancreas release them.
Types of Pancreatitis
In medical terms, there are two types of pancreatitis- acute and chronic.
- Acute Pancreatitis: It is an abrupt inflammation that can last for short while and the intensity can be measured from mild uneasiness to a serious, life-threatening sickness. The vast majority with acute pancreatitis gets recover after the treatment. In serious cases, a patient may have bleeding, serious tissue damage, cysts, and infection due to acute pancreatitis. It can also damage other organs like the heart, kidney, and lungs.
- Chronic Pancreatitis: It’s another medical condition that can cause long-term inflammation. This condition usually occurs after acute pancreatitis. Another main reason for this chronic condition is the consumption of alcohol for a long time. Symptoms may not be visible for a couple of years for the damage caused to the pancreas due to heavy consumption of alcohol. However, an individual may abruptly have serious symptoms of pancreatitis.
How to identify the symptoms of pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis Symptoms:
- Higher heart pulse rate
- Fever, nausea, and vomiting
- Tender and swollen stomach
- An individual may experience pain in the upper section of the stomach that moves into the back.
Chronic Pancreatitis Symptoms
An individual may experience similar symptoms of acute pancreatitis in chronic pancreatitis condition. However, it also includes:
- Vomiting and upset stomach.
- A continuous pain in the upper section of the abdomen that moves to your back and it may be hindering.
- Weight loss and diarrhea due to lack of discharge of enzymes produced by the pancreas to break down food.
What are the causes of Pancreatitis?
Causes of acute pancreatitis
- Consumption of excess alcohol
- Auto-immune disorder
- Metabolic disorder
- Medicines and Surgery
Approximately 10-15% of the individuals who have experienced acute pancreatitis, causes are undetermined.
Causes of chronic pancreatitis
- Alcohol consumption for a long-time
- Family medical history for pancreas disease
- Cystic fibrosis, and high triglycerides
According to Dr. Valeria Simone MD, (Southlake General Surgery, Texas), for about 25-30 percent of individuals with chronic pancreatitis, causes are undetermined. This condition is more common in men between the age group 30-40 years.
Complications of Pancreatitis
There could be a serious complication of pancreatitis, that include:
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Pancreas infection
- Breathing issue due to changes in chemicals in the body that impact the lungs
- Diabetes- in case there is damage to the cells that generate an insulin
- Damage to kidney or kidney failure
- Malnutrition due to the absence of digestive enzymes.
- Pancreatic necrosis is a medical condition where the tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply to the pancreas.
- Pseudocysts is another medical condition in which fluid stores in the pockets of the pancreas can burst and spread infection.
Diagnosis of Pancreatitis
Your doctor will possibly examine your abdomen for acute pancreatic examination by pressing on the belly to check the tenderness and they also check for low blood pressure, pulse rate, and fever.
For the diagnosis of acute pancreatitis, the doctor will suggest for a blood test to check two digestive enzymes known as amylase and lipase. An increased level of these enzymes states that you might have acute pancreatitis. You also must go for a blood test to check White blood cells (WBC), calcium, blood sugar, and liver function test (LFT).
For chronic pancreatitis diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe for X-ray or CT scan, or MRI to get the exact condition of the pancreas. You will also prescribe for a blood test and stool test for excess fat, it is an indication that your pancreas is not making ample enzymes to process fat. You will also recommend for pancreatic function test to check the functioning of the pancreas on releasing the digestive enzymes. You may likewise be examined for diabetes.
Treatment of Pancreatitis
Acute Pancreatitis Treatment
If an individual has an acute pancreatitis attack, your doctor may suggest medicines for pain. You might need to stay in the hospital for the treatment. Your doctor may drain your stomach through a tube inserted from your nose. If your pancreatitis attack is persistent, your doctor may connect an intravenous tube to hydrate and feed you through the vein.
Your treatment for acute pancreatitis may include:
- Fluids through an intravenous needle. You need to stay on a low-fat diet or stop eating for quick recovery of the pancreas. Nutrition for your body will be given through a feeding tube.
- Medicines for pain
- For infected pancreas your doctor will give you antibiotics.
For serious cases, treatment may include:
- Gallbladder surgery in case the problem is caused by gallstones.
- Pancreas surgery to remove the dead tissues and clear the fluid.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): In this procedure, your doctor inserts a tube through your throat down into the stomach and upper intestines to clear the gallstones in case they are creating obstructing the bile or pancreatic ducts.
Chronic Pancreatitis Treatment
For the treatment of chronic pancreatitis, your doctor looks for complications that may affect your digestion and aim to treat pain to avoid any pain-killers addiction. You might receive pancreatic enzyme replacement treatment to help the digestive tract function to digest food. It will also help to forestall new attacks.
Your treatment may also include:
- Medicines for Pain
- Pancreatic enzymes strengthen your digestive tract to digest food.
- Insulin for diabetes treatment.
- Pancreas surgery to drain the fluid and remove the damaged tissues.
If the pain killer and other pain treatment along with medicines are not responding to your condition, then your doctor will recommend a surgical procedure is required to remove the dead pancreatic tissues.
How can you prevent pancreatitis condition?
Over and excess consumption of alcohol is one main reason that many individuals experience pancreatitis. If an individual limit the consumption of alcohol or stops drinking, this medical condition can be avoided.
Quit smoking and follow your doctor’s instructions to improve your diet and digestion. If smoking and drinking are a concern, please consult your doctor to help you.
For more information on Pancreatitis – causes, symptoms, treatment, surgery, and consultation with us. You can contact our healthcare expert today at +1(817) 748-0200. You can also make an online appointment with us.
Follow us on Facebook.