What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. It can occur as acute pancreatitis, which comes on quickly and severely. It is usually brought on by problems of the gallbladder and may last for several days.

Pancreatitis may also appear as chronic pancreatitis, which occurs over many years. The major cause for chronic pancreatitis is chronic alcoholism.
Mild cases of pancreatitis may not require treatment, but more severe cases can cause serious complications.

Symptoms of pancreatitis are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tenderness of the abdomen

Pancreatitis can be caused by a number of things.

Common causes include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Gallstones
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Medications
  • Smoking
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Family history of pancreatitis
  • High calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcemia), which may be caused by an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism)
  • High triglyceride levels in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia)
  • Infection
  • Injury to the abdomen
  • Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatitis can be diagnosed by:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
  • CT Scans
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • MRI

Treatment for pancreatitis may require hospitalization. Once the inflammation in the pancreas is controlled, doctors can treat the cause of your pancreatitis.

Initial treatments to help control inflammation include:

  • Fasting
  • Drinking water and eating bland foods
  • A feeding tube in more severe cases
  • Pain medications
  • Intravenous fluids

Treatment for the underlying cause of your pancreatitis can include:

  • Removal of bile duct obstructions
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Cholecystectomy, a surgery to remove the gallbladder
  • Pancreas surgery
  • Treatment for alcohol dependence
  • Pain management
  • Enzymes to improve digestion
  • Changes to your diet
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