Information About Pancreatitis | Gastroenterology


What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a long, flat gland that is located behind the abdomen in the lower abdomen. The pancreas produces enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the way your body processes sugar (glucose).

The condition starts with acute pancreatitis, that is, it appears suddenly and lasts for days. Or pancreatitis can occur like chronic pancreatitis, which can last for many years.


There are two types of pancreatitis, which are acute and chronic.

  • Acute: It is a sudden inflammation that lasts for a short time. It can range from mild discomfort to serious and life-threatening illnesses. Most people with acute pancreatitis make a full recovery after receiving proper treatment. In severe cases, this can cause bleeding, severe tissue damage, infection, and cysts. This can also damage other vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
  • Chronic: Chronic inflammation. It occurs most often after an episode of acute pancreatitis. Another important reason is drinking alcohol for a long time. Damage to the pancreas from excessive alcohol consumption may not cause symptoms for many years, but then suddenly you may have symptoms.


Symptoms of acute pancreatitis

  • Fever
  • High heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling and pale belly
  • Pain in the upper abdomen that reaches the back. Eating can be bad, especially high-fat foods.

Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis

  • The constant pain in the upper abdomen radiates to the back. This pain can be stopped
  • Diarrhea and weight loss Your pancreas does not release enough enzymes to break down food
  • The stomach and vomiting can be upset


The common causes of both acute and chronic pancreatitis include

  • Gallstones
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Genetic defects of your pancreas
  • Some drugs
  • There are other reasons
  • Infections such as viruses or parasites NIH external link
  • Injury to your abdomen
  • External link to pancreatic cancer NIH
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used to treat another condition.
  • NIH External Link of Pancreatic Division

Acute pancreatitis

  • Gallstones are the common cause of acute pancreatitis.
  • Gallstones can cause inflammation of the pancreas when they get stuck in the gallbladder or pancreatic duct. This condition is called gallbladder pancreatitis.

Chronic pancreatitis

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Genetic defects of your pancreas
  • There are other reasons
  • Blockage in your pancreatic duct
  • Fats in the blood are high and are called lipids.
  • Your blood is high in calcium
  • In most cases, doctors cannot find the cause. This is called idiopathic pancreatitis

Risk factors

The risk factors include

  • Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks per day reliable source)
  • Smoking cigars
  • Genetics
  • Men are more likely to have chronic pancreatitis than women

A combination of risk factors, such as smoking and having a family history, increases the risk of the disease. Smoking or drinking also increases the risk of developing acute pancreatitis


There are no reliable tests for the diagnosis of acute and chronic pancreatitis. A doctor may suspect the disease because of the patient’s symptoms, a history of recurrent acute pancreatitis inflammation, or alcohol abuse.

Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to check the level of glucose in the blood, which can be increased. Blood tests for elevated amylase and lipase levels at this stage are not reliable. Blood levels of amylase and lipase increase during the first two days of pancreatitis and then return to normal after five to seven days. The disease lasted longer in a patient with chronic pancreatitis.

Doctors must take a close look at the pancreas to correctly diagnose the disease. It is mostly:

Ultrasound: High-frequency sound waves create an image on the monitor of the pancreas and its surroundings.

CT scan: X-rays are used to take multiple images of the same area from multiple angles, which are then combined to form a 3-D image. Examination reveals changes in chronic pancreatitis.

Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP): This scan clearly shows the bile and pancreatic vessels rather than CT.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): the endoscope is inserted into the gastrointestinal tract. The doctor uses an ultrasound to guide you through the endoscope.

Patients with chronic pancreatitis are prone to pancreatic cancer. If symptoms get worse, especially if the pancreatic duct narrows, doctors may suspect cancer. If so, they may request a CT scan, MRI, or endoscopic study.


Treatment of acute or chronic pancreatitis is usually hospitalized. The pancreas is critical to your digestive processes and needs rest to heal.

For this reason, you can receive specially designed fluids and nutrition through an intravenous (IV) line or through a tube that goes directly from your nose to your stomach. This is called a nasogastric feeding tube. Medicines can help control pain. You may also receive artificial digestive enzymes for chronic pancreatitis if your pancreas does not make enough on its own.

Restarting the oral diet depends on your condition. Some people feel better after a few days. Other people need a week or two to heal properly.

Surgery: If other treatments don’t work, surgery is suggested. If your doctor diagnoses gallstones, surgery to remove the gallbladder can help. The surgery also removes the diseased parts of your pancreas.


The condition can cause serious complications. They include

Pseudocyst: Acute pancreatitis is the accumulation of fluid and debris in the bags of the pancreas similar to a cyst. A large pseudocyst that ruptures can cause problems such as internal bleeding and infection.

Infection: Acute pancreatitis exposes your pancreas to bacteria and infections. Pancreatic infections are serious and require serious treatment, such as surgery, to remove the infected tissue.

Renal insufficiency: Acute pancreatitis can lead to kidney failure, which can be treated with dialysis if kidney failure is severe and persistent.

Respiratory problems: Acute pancreatitis causes chemical changes in your body that affect the function of your lungs, causing the oxygen level in your blood to drop dangerously low.

Diabetes: Damage to the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas due to chronic pancreatitis can lead to diabetes, which affects the way your body uses blood sugar.

Malnutrition: Both acute and chronic pancreatitis causes the pancreas to produce less of the enzymes needed to break down and process the nutrients in the food you eat. It can lead to malnutrition, diarrhea, and pancreweight loss, even if you are eating the same food or the same amount of food.

Pancreatic cancer: Chronic inflammation of the pancreas due to chronic pancreatitis is a risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer.


Depending on the cause, you may not be able to prevent the condition. However, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Limit your alcoholic beverages
  • Quit Smoking
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Eating a diet rich in fiber and avoiding sugar can help prevent gallstones, which are one of the main causes

What happens after recovery?

If a specific cause of acute pancreatitis is found, such as gallstones or a metabolic disorder (rare), the cause can be treated. Otherwise, no other treatments are needed after a case of complicated acute pancreatitis.

Although the condition is related to alcohol, people are advised to drink very little alcohol. Some experts recommend not drinking alcohol for 6 to 12 months after the occurrence of the condition

There is no research on whether alcohol withdrawal can prevent new cases if the cause is not related to alcohol.

People with severe conditions need more treatment after they leave the hospital. Excessive weight loss is common during acute pancreatitis.

Sometimes it can take several weeks for your appetite to return and weight back. Advice from a nutritionist can help during this time. In some people, the pancreas does not make enough digestive juices (for a time) after recovering from the condition. If the same happens, artificial pancreatic enzymes can be taken with meals to absorb fats from the diet.

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