The digestive system of the human body is complex and it involves several different organs that maintain the proper functioning of the entire process. One of them is the pancreas. Located behind the stomach and about 6 inches long, the pancreas is connected to the duodenum through a pancreatic duct. It aids in digestion and also regulates blood sugar by producing insulin.
Pancreatitis is the medical term for an inflamed pancreas. The cause of inflammation is often the activation of digestive enzymes in the organ instead of the pancreatic duct. If the inflammation is only for a short period of time, it is considered acute pancreatitis. But, if the inflammation of pancreas persists and causes permanent damage to pancreatic tissue, it is called chronic pancreatitis which can be life-threatening.
Do I have Chronic Pancreatitis?
If you have the following symptoms, they can be a sign of chronic pancreatitis.
- Severe Recurrent Upper Abdominal Pain - You may feel abdominal tenderness. Sometimes, sitting may cause severe pain as well.
- Nausea & Vomiting - A recurring feeling of nausea and vomiting due to improper digestion.
- Weight Loss - Due to a lack of pancreatic enzymes, the body is not able to absorb nutrients properly and it can lead to malnutrition.
- Diarrhea & Oily/Smelly Stools - Poor digestion leads to excretion of fat.
As the situation worsens, there are chances of internal bleeding, intestinal blockage, jaundice and severe infection to the organ. It can lead to low level of oxygen and severely affect your quality of life. Also, recurring pain in the pancreas can lead to pancreatic cancer. Hence, it becomes necessary to get GI surgeon's opinion immediately.
Am I at Risk for developing Chronic Pancreatitis?
The causes of chronic pancreatitis are many. You can suffer from the disease in the following situations:
- Alcoholism and Smoking - Heavy use of alcohol and tobacco
- Existence of Gall bladder Stones
- Blockage in Pancreatic Duct or Bile Duct
- Hypercalcemia - Elevated calcium levels in the bloodstream
- Hyperlipidemia or Hypertriglyceridemia - High lipid levels in the blood
- Autoimmune Conditions - Certain autoimmune diseases including Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Sjogren's Syndrome, Type 1 Diabetes, etc.
- Cystic Fibrosis - Defective gene leading to mucus buildup in pancreas & other organs
- Hereditary Pancreatic Disorders - Several members of the family suffer from the same disease
- Abdominal Surgery and Abdominal Injuries can cause the problem
- Chronic Kidney Failure
How to diagnose Chronic Pancreatitis?
Basically, it is diagnosed clinically based on patient's symptoms, examinations and radiology (USG - low sensitivity, CECT or MRI (MRCP) - higher sensitivity). Additionally, blood test can help to corroborate the severity of the situation.
However, imaging test offers the most reliable results. Your gastro surgeon may suggest you abdominal X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRI scans. In a few situations, you may be required to undertake endoscopic ultrasound as well.
What is the Treatment for Chronic Inflammation of Pancreas?
If you are diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, avoid alcohol at all costs. Your GI surgeon may suggest CECT (Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography) or MRCP (Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography) to diagnose chronic pancreatitis and its related complications. It is necessary because ailments such as bile duct obstruction and pseudocysts are caused due to chronic pancreatitis. Your doctor will prescribe pain medications and/or antioxidants to alleviate the pain or digestive enzymes for better absorption of nutrients from the food. You may need insulin if you have diabetes.
In case of calcification/stones in pancreas with persistent pain, your doctor may offer surgery to you which requires clearing all pancreatic calcification/stones by draining pancreas into the intestines. Such a surgery, when done in selected patients, has excellent success rates.
When a part of the pancreas is removed, you need pancreatic enzyme supplements. If you have a family history of diabetes, you need to ensure regular checkups to ascertain your blood glucose levels.
No Need to Suffer: Get in touch with a Gastrointestinal Surgeon Today
When it comes to pancreatitis, there is no need to suffer the terrible abdominal pain. You must remember that taking pain medications without any professional medical help will not solve the underlying issue. If there is a persistent pain, consistent weight loss or malnutrition, do not hesitate in calling a GI doctor.
Do you think you have chronic pancreatitis? Do you have any other ailment related to your stomach and intestines? Get in touch with the best gastrointestinal surgeon of Surat. Choose the expert in pancreatic surgery for immediate medical attention. Dial +91-9825718911 to book an appointment today.