What Is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is a medical condition in which there is inflammation of pancreas. The pancreas is a vital organ of the body which is situated behind the stomach in the upper part of the abdomen. The main function of the pancreas is to produce enzymes which facilitate digestion and produce hormones, which control the procession mechanism of sugar in the body. Pancreatitis is a condition which can last for days and come out of the blue. Pancreatitis can also occur as a chronic disease which has been developing in an individual for years. Minor cases of Pancreatitis are self limiting and go away on their own whereas acute and chronic cases of pancreatitis can be potentially serious and can be even life threatening.
What Are The Causes Of Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis develops when the digestive enzymes that are produced in the pancreas get activated and start to damage the organ. Under normal circumstances, the pancreatic enzymes are in their inactive state and move to the intestine where they become active and facilitate digestion of food whereas in Pancreatitis these enzymes get activated while they are still in the pancreas resulting in irritation of the cells in the pancreas causing inflammation of the pancreas. When an individual experiences repeated episodes of pancreatitis there may be significant damage to the pancreas. There may be development of scar tissues in the pancreas thus causing the pancreas to lose its function. If pancreas starts to malfunction it may result in various other disease conditions like indigestion or diabetes mellitus.
Some Common Causes Of Pancreatitis Include:
- Chronic alcoholism
- Surgical procedures to the abdomen
- Certain medications
- Cystic fibrosis
- Family history of Pancreatitis
- Abdominal injuries
What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatitis?
Some of the symptoms of Pancreatitis are:
- Upper abdominal pain which worsens after eating
- Abdominal pain which radiates to the back
- Abdominal tenderness
- Unintentional weight loss
How Is Pancreatitis Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Pancreatitis the treating physician will order the following tests:
- Blood tests looking elevated pancreatic enzymes
- Stool tests to measure fat levels in the stool indicating that the digestive system is not functioning appropriately
- CT of the abdomen looking for gallstones and also to measure the extent of damage caused due to Pancreatitis
- Abdominal ultrasound looking for inflammation of the pancreas
- Endoscopic ultrasound looking for some sort of blockages in the pancreatic duct
- MRI scan looking for abnormalities in gallbladder, pancreas, or pancreatic ducts
What Are The Treatments For Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is generally treated in an inpatient setting to stabilize the inflammation of the pancreas. To begin with, the physician will try to control the inflammation. This is done by not giving the patient anything to eat so as to give time for the pancreas to recover from the inflammation. Once inflammation is controlled, then the patient may be given bland foods or a liquid diet and gradually the patient is brought back to normal diet. In case if the pain is not controlled then a feeding tube may be recommended.
Since Pancreatitis causes severe pain in the abdomen hence pain medications will also be given to calm down the pain.
Due to pancreatitis, the affected individual may get dehydrated; hence intravenous fluid might be administrated to keep the individual hydrated.
The length of the hospital stay depends on the recovery of the individual. Some people may recover quickly and may be discharged earlier than others.
Home Remedies And Diet For Pancreatitis
Some of the home remedies and diet that one can take for Pancreatitis are:
- Complete abstinence from alcohol.
- Complete abstinence from smoking.
- Eating a low fat diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
- Maintain adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration.