Chronic Pancreatitis

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Chronic Pancreatitis is a very acute condition of the stomach that annually affects many people around the world. Read and know all about this condition as well as its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

What is Chronic Pancreatitis?

It is a condition that leads to persistent swelling of the pancreas that fails to improve or heal and gets worse with time, thus leading to permanent damage. Damage to the areas of the pancreas involved in insulin production may result in diabetes.

Pancreas is the organ located in a posterior position of to the stomach that releases enzymes that are required to digest food as well as hormones like glucagon and insulin. When scarring and swelling of the pancreas happens, the organ is not able to function anymore to produce these enzymes in appropriate quantity. As a natural consequence, the body may be incapable of digesting fat and other essential constituents of food items.

Chronic Pancreatitis Incidence

This disease frequently arises in men more than in women. It is often seen to develop in individuals who are aged between 30 and 40.

Chronic Pancreatitis Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis are:

Chronic Pancreatitis Picture

Picture 1 – Chronic Pancreatitis
Source – petquery.com

Digestive problems

This condition results in chronic loss of weight even when eating habits as well as amount of foods eaten are normal. It also leads to pale, fatty stools that are oily in appearance. Affected individuals also suffer from nausea, vomiting and Diarrhea.

Abdominal pain

Sufferers usually experience in the upper abdominal region that may persist from a few hours to several days. It may eventually become persistent. In Chronic Pancreatitis pain may worsen after consumption of foods and drinks. Aches may also be experienced in the back.

Some other Chronic Pancreatitis signs involve fever, weakness, sweating, clammy skin and chills.

Chronic Pancreatitis Causes

Certain conditions may act as causes of Chronic Pancreatitis. These may involve:

  • Thyroid Disorders
  • Hyperlipidemia (Unusually high levels of cholesterol in bloodstream)
  • Excessive intake of alcohol for a long duration
  • Cystic fibrosis complications
  • Autoimmune problems (Abnormal conditions that prompts the immune system to turn against the body)
  • High levels of a fat known as Triglycerides in the bloodstream (Hypertriglyceridemia)
  • Obstruction of the common bile duct (the tubular structures that drain enzymes from the pancreas) or the pancreatic duct
  • Use of some medicines (especially Corticosteroids, Estrogens, Azathioprine and Thiazide Diuretics)
  • Hyperparathyroidism (Excessive Parathyroid hormone secretion that results in unusually high calcium levels in the bloodstream)

Recurring sequences of Acute Pancreatitis can lead to Chronic Pancreatitis. Genetics has also been found to be a causative factor in certain cases.

Chronic Pancreatitis Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests that are performed for this condition mainly include:

  • CT scans or ultrasound examination of the abdomen
  • Blood tests, such as serum amylase and serum lipase tests that evaluate pancreatic function
  • Urine tests
  • Abdominal x-rays

In some cases, patients may be asked to furnish a sample of stools to test for excessive fat content. Physicians may also perform Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scans of the abdomen. An ultrasound examination may also be carried out to let physicians check for blockages in the pancreas. Definitive diagnosis is incomplete without Laparotomy, a surgical operation that assesses the organs located in the abdomen for problems or damage.

Chronic Pancreatitis Treatment

Treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis may include analgesics (pain relieving medicines) to provide relief from stomach aches. Fluids are also administered through a vein (IV) in some cases. In patients with acute chronic pancreatitis, a tube may be inserted through the mouth or the nose to take out the contents of the stomach. This process is known as Nasogastric Suctioning. The tube may be allowed to remain inside for 1 or 2 days and even for a couple of weeks in some cases.

Other treatments may involve surgical removal of nasal blockage, if an obstruction is found. Insulin may also be provided to control sugar level in bloodstream. In some cases, supplements may be administered to make up for enzymes that the pancreas becomes unable to produce. Treatment for diabetes may be necessary if blood sugar level becomes too low or high.

When a blockage in the pancreas gives rise to Chronic Pancreatitis surgery may be required to remove it and restore the function of the pancreas. In rare cases, complete removal of the pancreas may be required.

Pancreatic enzymes may also be prescribed by doctors, which must be taken with every meal. The enzymes can help gain weight and digest food better.

Chronic Pancreatitis Management

Chronic pancreatitis can be managed with dietary modifications. This includes:

Eating a low fat diet

A diet that includes low fat foods can help ease discomforts in the stomach. In chronic pancreatitis diet is very important for cure. A nutritionist can guide patients about diet plans to help them maintain a healthy weight and get minerals and vitamins that are necessary for the body.

In some cases, oral intake of foods or fluids may be stopped for a while to reduce the activity of the pancreas and resumed again after sometime.

Drinking plenty of liquids

Consuming liquids in high amounts may flush out toxins and prevent dehydration apart from curing chronic conditions of Pancreatitis naturally.

Eating frequent meals

Eat small meals more frequently. This will keep your stomach filled and help in reducing digestive discomforts.

Consume enough minerals and vitamins

Add more calcium and vitamins into your diet, or have them as additional supplements. This will boost your immune system and help recover from chronic pancreatic conditions much earlier.

Limit alcohol and caffeine

Limit intake of caffeine and alcoholic beverages. Substances like these can trigger pancreatitis and prolonged intake can make the disease persistent. It is best to stop alcohol and caffeine intake during treatment and also afterwards.

Chronic Pancreatitis Prognosis

This is a serious illness that can lead to disabilities. In worse cases, it may also cause death of sufferers. However, proper treatment in the early stages of this disease can help in curing the condition properly and earlier.

Chronic Pancreatitis Life Expectancy

The life span of a Chronic Pancreatitis patient suffering from this disease is said to reduce by 10-20 years.

Chronic Pancreatitis Complications

The complications of this condition include:

  • Sudden obstruction of the pancreas
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatic Pseudocysts (Accumulation of infected fluid within abnormal pancreatic sacs)
  • Ascites
  • Blood clot in spleen veins
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Impaired function of the pancreas
  • Malabsorption of essential nutrients
  • Damage to the cells of the Pancreas

This condition may also lead to production of fewer enzymes or even non-production. This may lead to loss of weight and malabsorption of vitamins and fats.

You should immediately get in touch with a healthcare provider if you spot symptoms of this condition in yourself or any member of your family. Early Chronic Pancreatitis cure can help in early recovery from this condition and also help prevent complications.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001268/

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/181554-overview

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160459.php

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/pancreatitis/#chronic

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