Pancreatitis – Prevention & Management
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Did You Know? Pancreatitis affects over 200,000 in the U.S. each year
Chronic Pancreatitis is Linked to Cancer of the Pancreas
Chronic Pancreatitis is More Common in Men and Often Develops in Patients Ages 30-40
The pancreas is a long, flat gland in the upper abdomen that produces enzymes to aid digestion and hormones that regulate the body’s processing of glucose and insulin. Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis. Cases of pancreatitis can be mild to severe, and are categorized as either acute or chronic.
Please read the following summary to learn more about the two forms of pancreatitis, as well as prevention, symptoms and treatment.
01 | Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis
- Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and may result in life-threatening complications. The majority of patients, however, make a complete recovery.
- Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve and that leads to permanent damage. It can be caused by alcohol consumption.
02 | Causes
The majority of cases of acute pancreatitis are caused by gallstones and alcohol ingestion. It can also be caused by certain medications, trauma or surgery. Over 90% of chronic pancreatitis cases are the result of prolonged alcohol consumption, which causes damage and scarring of the pancreas.
03 | Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of pancreatitis may vary, but commonly include:
- Upper abdominal pain and abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Rapid pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Steatorrhea (oily, malodorous stools)
Chronic pancreatitis pain is usually constant in nature and, for some, disabling. Diabetes may develop if the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are damaged.
04 | Diagnosis & Treatment
Your medical provider will perform a thorough physical exam including lab tests; however, the best method of diagnosis is medical imaging to evaluate the condition of the pancreas.
Initial treatment will likely include fasting, pain medication and IV fluids. Once the inflammation is reduced, your health care team can treat the underlying cause of the pancreatitis, which may include surgery to remove obstructions, gallbladder surgery or surgery to repair the pancreas.
For more information on pancreatitis, please visit: https://www.pancreasfoundation.org/