Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach. The pancreas secretes digestive juices in the small intestine which help digestion and secretes enzymes that regulate glucose levels in the body. Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself.
Pancreatitis is of 2 types, acute and chronic.
The most common signs and symptoms of pancreatitis are severe pain in the upper abdomen which spreads to the back and aggravates while eating. The other symptoms include:
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:
Pancreatitis is mainly caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use. These two factors contribute up to 80% of the total pancreatitis cases. Other causes of pancreatitis include infection, trauma, hypothermia, smoking tumors, inheritance, and certain medications (such as corticosteroids, diuretics, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics).
Anyone can develop pancreatitis, but the risk in more in these people:
Pancreatitis can cause serious complications such as infection, pseudocyst, diabetes, malnutrition, abscess formation, and organ failure. If the fluid levels drop suddenly, it results in hypovolemic shock which is a medical emergency. In few cases, chronic pancreatitis may also lead to pancreatic cancer.
The doctors may initially perform a physical examination and review medical history. If pancreatitis is suspected, the doctor would recommend other tests and procedures such as:
Pancreatitis is confirmed if the patient has following conditions:
The treatment of pancreatitis varies depending on the underlying cause. In general, the first-line treatment involves:
Once the pancreatitis is controlled, treatment is given to manage the underlying cause. If alcohol abuse is the main cause, the doctor recommends treatment program to abstain alcohol. If pancreatitis is due to the presence of gallstones, cholecystectomy is performed to remove the gallbladder. Surgery to the pancreas is performed in some cases to remove diseased tissue.
The patient should take following measures for a speedy recovery and prevent further complications:
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