Everything You Need to Know About Pancreatitis

Everything You Need to Know About Pancreatitis

Your pancreas is nestled behind your stomach, close to your small intestine. It’s a multitasker, releasing enzymes to aid digestion and overseeing glucose management in your body.

But when inflammation strikes, this vital organ’s job gets disrupted. Let’s delve into what pancreatitis entails.

Types of pancreatitis

Pancreatitis typically falls into two categories: acute and chronic. In severe cases of acute pancreatitis, necrotizing pancreatitis can occur. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition.

Acute pancreatitis

A leading cause of gastrointestinal-related hospital admissions is acute pancreatitis.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), approximately 275,000 people are hospitalised for acute pancreatitis annually in the United States.

The onset of acute pancreatitis is often abrupt. While inflammation usually subsides within a few days of treatment, some cases may require hospitalisation.

Acute pancreatitis is more prevalent among adults than children. Gallstones are the primary culprit for adults.

Moreover, chronic pancreatitis may develop, particularly with heavy smoking or alcohol consumption. Let’s delve deeper into acute pancreatitis.

Chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis involves persistent inflammation or recurring episodes over an extended period.

Those with chronic pancreatitis may endure lasting damage to the pancreas and associated complications, such as the formation of scar tissue.

This condition can impair insulin-producing cells, increasing the risk of diabetes for about 45% of individuals with chronic pancreatitis.

Long-term alcohol abuse is a common cause in adults, while autoimmune or genetic disorders, like cystic fibrosis, can also trigger chronic pancreatitis.

Necrotizing pancreatitis

In rare, severe cases, acute pancreatitis can escalate into necrotizing pancreatitis, where cells perish due to the disease. This occurs in roughly 10% of acute pancreatitis cases, typically when left untreated.

Pancreatitis-induced inflammation can lead to the leakage of digestive enzymes into the pancreas, causing tissue damage and necrosis.

Diagnosis often involves abdominal ultrasound or CT scans. Treatment may entail antibiotics or surgical removal of dead tissue to prevent infections, which significantly elevate mortality risk.

Symptoms of pancreatitis

Typically, individuals with acute or chronic pancreatitis experience persistent upper abdominal pain as a primary symptom.

Chronic pancreatitis sufferers may display inflammation on diagnostic scans without exhibiting other symptoms.

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include sudden or gradual upper abdominal pain, which may radiate to the back, alongside fever, nausea, vomiting, and a swollen or tender abdomen.

On the other hand, chronic pancreatitis symptoms encompass upper abdominal pain (or none at all), which worsens after eating, along with diarrhoea, nausea, weight loss, and vomiting.

Pancreatitis causes and risk factors

Various factors elevate the risk of pancreatitis, including excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, and genetic predisposition.

A combination of factors, such as smoking coupled with a family history of pancreatitis, heightens the likelihood of developing the condition.

Moreover, high blood calcium or triglyceride levels can also contribute to chronic pancreatitis.

Gallstones top the list as the primary cause of acute pancreatitis. These solid masses can obstruct the junction where the main pancreatic duct meets the common bile duct, triggering inflammation in both organs.

Complications and Diagnosis

While complications are rare, chronic pancreatitis may lead to pancreatic cancer, malnutrition, diabetes, or infections, necessitating vigilant monitoring.

Diagnosis typically involves a blend of blood tests and imaging studies, with acute pancreatitis often showing a surge in pancreatic enzyme levels.

Treatment options

Hospitalisation is often required for acute or chronic pancreatitis, allowing the pancreas to recuperate.

Treatment may involve intravenous fluids and tailored nutrition to rest the pancreas, alongside pain management medications and artificial digestive enzymes.

Surgery might be necessary if other treatments prove ineffective. Procedures may include gallbladder removal or excising diseased pancreatic tissue.

Pancreatic function test

For further evaluation, a pancreatic function test, also known as the secretin stimulation test, gauges the pancreas’s response to secretin, a digestive hormone.

During the test, secretin is administered, and fluid samples are collected to assess pancreatic function.

Understanding pancreatitis and its nuances is crucial for prompt diagnosis and effective management.

Ksenia Sobchak

Ksenia Sobchak, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication: Fashion Journalism, Central Saint Martins

Ksenia Sobchak enjoys blogging on fashion, style, lifestyle, love and CBD areas. Prior to becoming a blogger, Ksenia worked for a renowned fashion brand. Ksenia is a contributing author to leading fashion, lifestyle and CBD magazines and blogs. You can bump into Ksenia at her favourite cafe in South Kensington where she has written most blogs. Ksenia is a staunch advocate of CBD and its benefits to people. Ksenia is also on the panel of CBD reviewers at CBD Life Mag and Chill Hempire. Her favourite form of CBD are CBD gummies and CBD tinctures. Ksenia is a regular contributor at leading fashion, lifestyle as well as CBD magazines and blogs.

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