The pancreas is the large gland that is located behind the stomach and is next to the small intestine. This part of the body is responsible for various processes in the body. Hence, it is very important to take good care of it and make sure that it will not be infected with any illnesses. One illness that may hinder the proper functioning of the pancreas is pancreatitis. This is a condition that causes pain in the pancreas itself and this may potentially be dangerous for the overall health. Hence, having proper knowledge about the causes, symptoms, and of course, the treatments for pancreatitis is necessary. If you want to know these and more, feel free to give this article a read.
Pancreatitis: What is this condition?
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Pancreatitis, this condition is simply known as an inflammatory condition, which affects the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ of our body that is often forgotten by many people. This gland lies just behind the stomach. Furthermore, it is also near the top of the abdominal cavity. In spite of its small size, the pancreas has a small number of very significant roles in the body. These include the food and nutrients absorption and it helps in the digestion as well.
Furthermore, the pancreas is also important for those who suffer from diabetes. Actually, the pancreas is where the insulin is made. So, the right functioning, as well as the health of the pancreas, is very crucial or important.
Now we go to the illness itself. Pancreatitis occurs when the important digestive enzymes, which are beneficial in absorbing food become activated while it is still in the pancreas. Thus causing irritation to the gland’s tissues. Furthermore, there is a number of things that may cause the premature activation. These include smoking, excessive fatty diet, infections, as well as alcoholism, and many more factors.
Forms of Pancreatitis
There are actually two forms of pancreatitis, the chronic and acute.
- Chronic pancreatitis: this condition is actually a long-lasting inflammation of the pancreas. This most often occurs after an episode of the other type of pancreatitis. The heavy alcohol drinking is a big factor in this particular form. Damage to the pancreas from heavy alcohol use may not cause any symptoms for some years. However, there is a tendency that a particular person may unexpectedly develop a severe type of pancreatitis symptoms.
- Acute pancreatitis: this is the sudden inflammation of the pancreas that may last in just a short period of time. This may range from a mild discomfort to a severe and life-threatening illness. Most cases of acute pancreatitis recover entirely after getting the right treatment. However, in some severe cases, longer medication time is needed.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis may cause the upper abdomen to be in pain. The pain usually may range from a mild to severe type. It may suddenly appear or in the gradual period. More often than not, the pain may start or get worse after you eat.
Below are some more symptoms of acute pancreatitis:
- Weakness and lethargy
- Tenderness when touching the abdomen
- Waning pain after eating
- Vomiting or nausea
- Abdominal pain, which may radiate up to the back area
In the chronic form of the pancreas, the abdominal pain may also be present. However, it is often not that severe. In fact, some people may not feel it at all. the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include:
- Oily and foul-smelling stool
- Inadvertent weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Causes of pancreatitis
Normally, the digestive enzymes that are being released by the pancreas are not really activated to break down proteins and fats until they move to the small intestine. But when these digestive enzymes are then activated while in the pancreas, the inflammation takes place, thus leading to pancreatitis.
Some of the main causes of pancreatitis include:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cystic fibrosis
- Family history
- Chemical exposure
- Various medications
- Abdominal surgery or injury
- High triglyceride levels
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
Treatments for Pancreatitis
Most of the cases of acute pancreatitis, admission to the hospital is a must, while in some other cases of chronic pancreatitis, it is manageable in an outpatient setting. Furthermore, depending on the underlying cause of pancreatitis, the management of the condition may vary to focus on the specific cause. Generally, however, various treatments for pancreatitis will still be initiated for the condition.
First-line treatments for pancreatitis may include:
- Intravenous pain medication
- IV fluids to help in preventing dehydration while fasting
- Fasting, which is beneficial in resting and recovering from the condition
- If the condition is because of some obstructing gallstone, a surgical intervention is necessary to remove the gallstone or the gallbladder itself. Furthermore, intervention may also be mandatory in treating or removing the part of the pancreas that is being affected
- If the cause is alcohol consumption, self-restraint from alcohol as well as rehabilitation is recommended
- If it is caused by certain medication or chemical exposure, the removal of the medication or the offending exposure is recommended.