The pancreas is one of the most functional organs in the body found in the abdomen, and which is responsible for the production and manufacture of digestive enzymes, insulin included, which helps in the regulation of sugar in the blood. As is with any other body organ, the pancreas is vulnerable to ‘wear and tear’ with time after lots of work, and one way it responds is being ‘tired’ and ‘overworked’ is through inflammation. When the pancreas is inflamed and remains for long without treatment, it leads to chronic pancreatitis.
A basic inflammation affects the normal functionality of the pancreas and over time can cause lots of complications and damages if urgent medical attention is not given on time. People suffering from chronic pancreatitis will thus need continuous medical care so as to reduce the symptoms associated with pancreatitis and more importantly slow down the damage caused to this very useful organ, and while still at it, address likely complications that could arise in the process. Many a times, treatment will control but will rarely cure the real underlying problem
Causes of chronic pancreatitis
Some of the notable causes of this debilitating condition include:-
- Presence of other diseases like lupus in the body
- Blocked pancreatic duct as a result of tumors, stones, trauma etc
- Hereditary predisposition
- Cystic fibrosis
- And the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is excessive consumption of alcohol
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis
- The commonest symptom of this condition is long-standing pain reported in the mid section of the abdomen. The pain could worsen especially when an inflammation of the pancreas occurs
- Still on point, abdominal pain is also commonly reported, which occurs in the upper part of the abdomen and spreads all the way to the back. This unbearable pain, which could be relieved by leaning forward or sitting up, has led many to associate it with vomiting and nausea. The pain tends to worsen within the first 30 minutes after taking food. On the flip side of the coin though, at least 20 per cent of individuals suffering from chronic pancreatitis do not report any form of pain at all
- Difficulty in the digestion of fatty foods which can lead to weight loss and diarrhoea.
- When the pancreas is inflamed, its ability to manufacture enzymes and insulin is significantly compromised, and this may lead to diabetes
- Compromised pancreatic functioning – the main role of the pancreas is to control the level of sugar in the blood and more importantly facilitate in food digestion. Thus, people suffering from chronic pancreatitis will find it very difficult for their bodies to process food, more specifically the fats found in foods. This may lead to foul-smelling, greasy, and loose stool that can be very hard to flush down the toilet. Still on point, it could lead to nutrient and vitamin deficiency, and untold weight lo9ss.
Associated complications of Pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis has been associated with various complications such as blockage of the useful ducts that help in draining the gallbladder and the pancreas, which may lead to jaundice and worsened pancreatitis, increased risk of the condition leading to pancreatic cancer, and blockage of the upper part of the small intestine.
Treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis
Treatment of chronic pancreatitis is aimed at helping in pain relief, managing the associated complications, and facilitating and improving the normal functioning of the pancreas. Some effective treatment options available include:-
Avoiding alcohol consumption – this is the most effective of all treatments of chronic pancreatitis as the condition is caused, and worsened by the excessive consumption of alcohol. So by avoiding the consumption of alcohol you will actually be reducing your risk of getting acute pancreatitis, pancreatitis cancer, and more importantly you will reduce your risk of dying.
Take low-fat meals – you can also significantly reduce the pain associated with chronic pancreatitis by consuming tiny portions of low-fat meals and ensuring you intake enough fluids. The pain can also be reduced through fasting for several days, although this is best done in the hospital so you can be intravenously be fed to avoid a deprivation of important body nutrients.
Medication for pain – at the onset of the condition, you can use non-prescription OTCs to control pain associated with chronic pancreatitis. Some of these effective drugs to help alleviate pain include ibuprofen among other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Pancreatic enzyme Supplements – these are also highly recommended to help in pain relief associated with pancreatitis. By supplementing the body with enzymes, the demand for enzymes in the body will reduce, thus giving the pancreas the much needed time to ‘rest’. Be advised though that these enzymes will not give relieve to all people.
Narcotic pain medication – narcotic pain medication are very strong pain-killers but can only be bought with a prescription. These are always recommended if the pancreatic enzymes will not be able to give the much needed pain relief.