Your pancreas is a 6-inch-long gland located behind your stomach. It produces enzymes that aid digestion. It also produces hormones to regulate your body’s processing of glucose. Problems with your pancreas can result in digestive problems and diabetes.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it is called pancreatitis. The inflammation occurs when digestive enzymes it produces are activated while still in the pancreas (before being released into the small intestine), irritating pancreatic tissue. This enzyme activation may be triggered for any number of reasons – the most common of which are gallstones, heavy alcohol use, genetic disorders, and certain medications.
Pancreatitis requires a visit to the doctor and immediate treatment. If not, complications may occur, which include infection, kidney failure, diabetes, malnutrition, and cancer. Repeat episodes of pancreatitis can result in the formation of scar tissue in the pancreas, which in turn can affect the organ’s ability to function.
Signs & Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can be either acute or chronic. When acute, it can develop suddenly and last for days. When chronic, it develops slowly over time and is an ongoing problem. Mild cases may go away on their own, but severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening. Symptoms of pancreatitis depend on its type.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain after eating
- Pain in the upper abdomen
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Oily stool
- Unexplained weight loss
Treating Pancreatic Inflammation
Pancreatitis treatment usually involves a hospital stay, especially for acute pancreatitis. This is so your doctor can track the progress of treatment.
The first step is to control the inflammation. Initially, your doctor may recommend that you fast – to stop eating for a period of time – to allow your pancreas time to recover. Once the inflammation has gone down, you can drink liquids and bland foods until you can return to your normal diet. In the interim, IV fluids may be administered.
Treating the Cause of Pancreatitis
After your doctor has calmed the inflammation of your pancreas, treatment can proceed to address the cause of the pancreatitis. As you might expect, treatment will depend on the cause of the pancreatitis.
If gallstones are what’s causing your pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of your gallbladder, known as a cholecystectomy
In some cases, treatment for alcohol dependence may be warranted.
If your pancreatitis is the result of bile duct obstructions, surgery to remove those obstructions or to widen the duct may be recommended.
If your pancreatitis is chronic, your doctor may prescribe enzyme pills to aid digestion and ensure you are absorbing the nutrients in food.
The goal of pancreatitis treatment is to relieve your symptoms of pancreatitis, treat the underlying cause, and restore normal functioning of the pancreas.
Gastroenterologist in Ohio
If you are experiencing symptoms of pancreatitis, reach out to North Shore Gastroenterology in Ohio. Since 1989, we have worked hard to diagnose and successfully treat gastrointestinal disorders of patients in the area, using only cutting-edge technology and equipment.
We believe that every person is different, which is why we strive to understand the root cause of your pancreatitis, so we can create a personalized treatment plan for you.
Our surgery centers are located in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio. Call us at (440) 808-1212 or request an appointment now.