Pancreatitis is the condition of the digestive tract in which the inflammation of your pancreas occurs. The pancreas is a long flat organ located in the upper abdomen. It works as an endocrine and exocrine gland both. As an endocrine gland, it secretes insulin and glucagon, and as an exocrine gland, it produces digestive juices. Therefore it serves in regulating your blood glucose levels and digestion.
Mild cases of pancreatitis often recover soon. But sometimes, if left untreated, it can become life-threatening. Pancreatitis can occur suddenly- a condition known as acute pancreatitis or that occurs slowly- a condition known as chronic pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis can affect the functioning of the pancreas, that is digestion of food and the regulation of blood sugar levels. If you are diagnosed with pancreatitis, you should visit Gastroenterologist.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatitis?
The symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates towards the back. It becomes worse upon eating food, especially a diet rich in fats.
- Tender abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
The signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Unintentional weight loss
- Steatorrhea- oily and smelly stools
What are the causes of Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes get activated inside the pancreas, eventually causing irritation.
Repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis can result in chronic pancreatitis. It can cause scarring of the pancreas that interferes with its functioning.
Since the pancreas performs the function of digestion and maintaining blood sugar levels, its scarring can lead to impaired digestion and diabetes.
Health conditions that can lead to pancreatitis are:
- Having gallstones
- Chronic alcohol consumption
- Consuming certain medications
- Hypertriglyceridemia- high levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Hypercalcemia- high levels of calcium in the blood- may occur due to an overactive parathyroid gland- a condition known as hyperparathyroidism.
- Pancreatic cancer
- Injury to the abdomen
- Abdominal surgery
- Cystic fibrosis
What are the risk factors for Pancreatitis?
Factors that can increase the risk of pancreatitis are:
Excessive alcohol consumption
According to experts, those who consume too much alcohol can lead to pancreatitis- mostly those who consume four to five drinks a day. Normally, men are allowed to drink two glasses and women one glass a day.
Being obese can increase the risk of pancreatitis.
If you have diabetes, it can put you at risk of developing pancreatitis.
Having a family history of pancreatitis can increase the risk of it for you too.
What are the Complications of Pancreatitis?
The complications of pancreatitis are:
Pancreatitis can lead to kidney failure, for which you may need to get dialysis done if it remains persistent.
Acute pancreatitis can cause oxygen levels in your blood to fall, therefore causing breathing problems. You may need to get mechanical ventilation to breathe.
Acute pancreatitis can cause your pancreas to become vulnerable to bacteria, eventually leading to infection. Sometimes you may need to get surgery for the removal of scarred tissue.
Pancreatitis can cause the accumulation of debris and the formation of pus-like cysts called- pseudocysts. If they enlarge, it can cause internal bleeding and infection.
Pancreatitis can interfere with the absorption of food. Therefore it can lead to weight loss, malnutrition and diarrhea.
Your pancreas produces insulin hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. In pancreatitis, damage occurs to the pancreatic tissues that affect its functioning. Therefore it can lead to diabetes- a condition when your blood sugar level becomes high.
Chronic pancreatitis causes long-term inflammation. Therefore it can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
To treat pancreatitis, your healthcare provider may give you pain medications, antibiotics, and advice you to eat a low-fat diet. If you are diagnosed with it, you must visit a Gastroenterologist in Islamabad.