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What is Pancreatitis?

By on July 11, 2012 in Diseases with 0 Comments


What is pancreatitis? 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland near the stomach and liver that helps to absorb and digest food. Pancreatitis can be chronic (which means that it lasts a long time until a few years) or acute (which means that only lasts a few days).

Pancreatitis can damage the pancreas, but there are medications that can help control your pain and can help you lead a normal life.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

The symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:

  • Abdominal pain that spreads to the back and often worsens when eating.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Rapid heart rate.

People who have chronic pancreatitis also experience abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In addition, they may have the following symptoms:

  • High levels of blood sugar.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

What is the cause of pancreatitis?

There are a number of factors can cause pancreatitis. The most common cause of pancreatitis is alcohol abuse. Other causes include the following:

  • Smoking.
  • Gallstones (digestive fluids that solidify and form stones in the gallbladder).
  • Certain medicines.
  • High levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat).
  • High levels of parathyroid hormone in the blood (called hyperparathyroidism.)
  • High levels of calcium in the blood (called hypercalcemia).
  • Pancreatic cancer.
  • Cystic Fibrosis.
  • Family history of pancreatitis.
  • Abdominal surgery.
  • Injury to the abdomen.

What is the treatment for pancreatitis?

If you have acute pancreatitis, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days to receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics and pain relievers. At first, the pancreas should rest not eating or drinking.

If you have chronic pancreatitis, your treatment plan may include a low-fat diet, medications to relieve pain, help with insulin to high levels of sugar in the blood and enzyme tablets (pills that help you digest food). People with pancreatitis should not drink alcohol or smoke.

You may need more tests or even surgery if your pain is chronic or severe. Some people develop diabetes, or cancer of the pancreas due to damage caused by chronic pancreatitis. These conditions require separate treatment.

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