Pancreatitis is pathological inflammation of the pancreas. Your pancreas resides behind your stomach. It secretes enzymes that help you digest food and also regulates how your body manages glucose
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is pathological inflammation of the pancreas. Your pancreas resides behind your stomach. It secretes enzymes that help you digest food and also regulates how your body manages glucose.
Pancreatitis can come and go quickly, or it can be a chronic problem. Treatment will depend on whether your pancreatitis is acute or chronic.
What are the types of pancreatitis?
The onset of acute pancreatitis is often very sudden. The inflammation usually clears up within several days after treatment begins..
Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. Gallstones are small, solid masses that form from bile. A large enough gallstone can get stuck at the junction where the main pancreatic duct and the common bile duct come together to form another duct called the ampulla of Vater. These ducts empty into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
The pancreatic duct carries digestive enzymes from the pancreas. The common bile duct carries bile or other biliary substances from the liver and gallbladder. When a gallstone gets stuck here, it can cause a backup of these substances. This can lead to inflammation in both the common bile duct and pancreas.
Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that occurs constantly over the long haul. People with chronic pancreatitis can have permanent damage to their pancreas. Scar tissue develops from this long-term inflammation.
Extensive scar tissue may cause your pancreas to stop making the normal amounts of digestive enzymes, or glucose-regulating hormones. As a result, you’re likely to have trouble digesting fats (which are needed to be able to absorb these enzymes), and you may develop diabetes.
Alcoholism is a common cause of both acute and chronic pancreatitis in adults. Long-term alcohol abuse is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis in adults. Autoimmune and genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, can also cause chronic pancreatitis in some people.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
Most people who have acute or chronic pancreatitis experience middle-left upper abdominal pain as their primary symptom. Some people who have chronic pancreatitis may show inflammation on diagnostic imaging scans, but otherwise may show no symptoms.
Other symptoms of pancreatitis may include:
pain that wraps around the upper body and involves the back in a band-like pattern
nausea or vomiting
unintentional weight loss
bloating with a distended (swollen) abdomen
People who have chronic pancreatitis may also experience steatorrhea, which is fatty stools that give off a foul odor. Steatorrhea can be a sign of malabsorption. This means you’re not getting all of your essential nutrients from your diet because your pancreas doesn’t produce and secrete enough digestive enzymes to break down your food.
Pain associated with pancreatitis may last from a few minutes to several hours at a time. In severe cases, discomfort from chronic pancreatitis could become constant. Your pain is likely to increase after you eat or when you’re lying down. Try sitting up or leaning forward to make yourself more comfortable.