Chronic pancreatitis causes inflammation of the pancreas. The problem can progress over time. So, you may feel several difficulties in your body. Pancreatitis is the condition that causes problems with the pancreas. But, the chronic cases may not resolve itself. You need to seek medical assistance to get proper treatment. Want to know more information about the condition? Then, scroll below!
What Is Pancreas?
Before delving deep into the problems affecting the pancreas, you need to know the function of the organ. The pancreas is situated behind your stomach. The flat yet long gland sits in the upper part of the abdomen. It is the organ responsible for releasing enzymes. The enzymes are a special protein that helps with food digestion. Pancreas also plays an important role in controlling blood sugar levels.
Acute Vs Chronic Pancreatitis
The pancreatitis is classified as acute and chronic. The acute pancreatitis is the sudden inflammation. It is the condition that only lasts for a short duration of time. So, the patients affected by it can recover completely. With proper medical care, you can avoid the issue from recurring. The main causes of acute pancreatitis are:
- Presence of gallstones
- Side effects of medications
- Abuse of alcohol
But, the problem can have life-threatening complication if ignored. It has a good prognosis with prompt detection and better care.
Chronic pancreatitis has more chances of recurring. So, the inflammation may keep affecting you. The inflammation may not heal properly. So, you have to suffer for months or even years. The condition can result in severe damage as well as scarring. It can result in the development of cysts or calcium stones. Therefore, it causes blocking of the bile tube or duct. Chronic pancreatitis can stop the digestive juices and enzymes from reaching the stomach. So, it lowers the hormone levels and pancreatic enzymes. The problem can result in improper digestion. You can also see fluctuations in the blood sugar levels. It is a serious condition that results in other serious problems like diabetes and malnutrition. With the condition, your pancreas suffers damage over time. So, it can result in loss of function gradually.
Causes Of Chronic Pancreatitis
What exactly triggers the recurring pancreas inflammation? Several different causes can result in chronic pancreatitis. Let’s look into each cause in detail to understand more about the problem.
Long Term Alcohol Abuse
About 70% of the total cases of chronic pancreatitis have excessive alcohol consumption as the underlying cause. Alcohol in moderation may not affect your health. But, drinking alcohol in excess can result in inflammation of the pancreas. The excess consumption of alcohol can lead to the organ producing toxic substances. Therefore, it can result in the swelling of blood vessels in the pancreas.
Autoimmune disease is another cause of chronic pancreatitis. When you have a problem, your body attacks healthy tissues and cells. Your immune system considers it a dangerous, foreign object.
Narrow Pancreatic Duct
The narrow tube that carries the enzymes from the pancreas to the small intestine can get blocked. Therefore, the pancreatic juices may not reach the stomach for digestion. It can result in the inflammation of the pancreas.
Blocking Of Pancreatic Duct
The pancreatic stones or gallstones can block the pancreatic duct. So, it can stop the bile flow. It causes the pancreas to absorb the bile juice. It results in the inflammation of the pancreas.
It is the inherited disease leading to the inflammation of the pancreas. The problem can result in the building of mucus in your lungs.
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
The inflammation to the digestive tract can affect the pancreas and its function. So, it can result in pancreatitis.
Some other underlying health issues can affect the health of the pancreas. It can develop into chronic pancreatitis. So, the health problems that can trigger the issue are:
- Biliary Cholangitis
- Genetic Problems
People At Risk Of Chronic Pancreatitis
You may wonder if everyone can get affected by the problem. Unfortunately, some people are more at risk of developing the issue compared to others. The people at risk of chronic pancreatitis are:
People who abuse alcohol are more susceptible to the problem. Alcohol can affect the liver and pancreas health resulting in the condition.
People with a family history of the disease have more chances of developing the problem. if you have a family member suffering from the issue, you need to maintain caution.
The children living in the Asian and African region are at risk of developing a specific type of pancreatitis. The condition referred to as tropical pancreatitis can affect the young kids. It is a form of chronic pancreatitis associated with malnutrition.
Other People At Risk
The other factors that influence the pancreatic health and put you at risk are:
Smoking: Smoking can affect your overall health. But, it can also result in pancreatic inflammation.
- Age: People who have ages between thirty and forty are more prone to the issue.
- Men: The condition can occur more commonly in men compared to women.
Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis
The problem may never show signs or symptoms in the initial stages. But, as the disease progresses, you can observe some changes. It is due to the changes occurring in your pancreas. But, you may sometimes ignore. It can lead to pancreatitis becoming advanced. So, it may cause severe complications without any chance of reversal. You need to observe the changes happening in your body. Therefore, contact your doctor once you see the following signs:
You can experience pain in the upper part of the abdomen. The inflammation of the pancreas can trigger agony in your body. So, it mostly appears at the upper quadrant of your abdomen where you can locate the pancreas.
The pancreas is the vital organ that facilitates the digestion process. The exocrine function of the organ includes releasing the digestive enzymes essential for the proper breakdown of food. When you consume food, the digestive enzymes break it into particles to release energy. Therefore, the problems with digestive enzymes can lead to improper digestion. It leads to malabsorption of the nutrients. So, it results in loose stools or diarrhea.
The improper functioning of the pancreas can result in improper digestion. So, it becomes difficult to process the fat in the food you consume. It can result in pale and loose stools. The greasy and foul-smelling stools that do not flush properly. So, it causes embarrassment to affected people.
Nausea And Vomiting
You feel sick and start vomiting due to the improper pancreas function. The improper digestion due to the shortage of bile juices can lead to the problem. Therefore, you may feel sick due to pancreatitis.
Shortness Of Breath
You can suffer from breathing problems due to the inflammation in the pancreas. The problem can trigger the filling of the chest cavity with fluid. So, it can cause shortness of breath.
Unexplained Weight Loss
The reduction of pancreatic juices can result in abnormal absorption of the nutrients. So, it can cause malnutrition and subsequent weight loss. The loose stools can also cause the expected weight loss.
Chronic pancreatitis can trigger diabetes. So, irregular insulin levels can increase your thirst. You may feel excessive thirst to the pancreas abnormality.
The problem with the digestion and lack of essential nutrients in your body can result in exhaustion. Therefore, you feel extreme fatigue due to the condition.
As your condition progresses, your signs may become severe. So, chronic pancreatitis can trigger severe problems like:
- Accumulation of pancreatic fluids in the abdominal region.
- Jaundice due to the abnormal bilirubin in the blood. It can cause the yellowish color on your skin and eyes.
- Intestinal Blockage
- Internal bleeding
You can experience painful episodes for a few hours or even days. It can pull you back from performing to your optimum. The pain can prevent the affected people from eating or drinking. Therefore, the agony can worsen as time progress. You can see that the pain becomes a constant factor in your life.
Complications Due To Chronic Pancreatitis
Leaving the issue to resolve itself can cause severe complication. You need to get the apt treatment to prevent chronic pancreatitis from escalating. It can cause severe complications. So, the problem can become more complicated with your alcohol consumption. You have to know about the complication the disease can trigger. It will give you the right information. Therefore, you can take adequate steps to stop complications like:
The insufficient production of digestive enzymes can lead to improper digestion. So, your body may not get the essential nutrients to enhance your health. The malabsorption of the essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition. It can make you weak and exhausted. So, you may not feel energetic to perform your daily functions.
It is the common complication associated with chronic pancreatitis. The condition can damage the cells in the pancreas that produce glucagon and insulin. The hormones are responsible for controlling the sugar levels in the blood. Therefore, cell damage can increase sugar levels in the blood. It is the complication that affects 45% of the total patients suffering from a chronic case of pancreatitis.
Some people will also develop pseudocysts, which are fluid-filled growths that can form inside or outside of your pancreas. Pseudocysts are dangerous because they can block important ducts and blood vessels. They may become infected in some cases.
Diagnosis Of Chronic Pancreatitis
When you suspect the problem, it is better to seek a doctor’s appointment. The doctor can detect the presence of the issue with the following diagnostic tests:
During the initial stages of the problem, the changes occurring in the pancreas become hard to detect. So, the blood tests may not offer conclusive detection. But, it can help measure the pancreatic enzymes in the blood. It also helps detect the blood cell counts associated with the kidney and liver functions
If the doctor suspects any problem, the stool test sample can provide more information. The high levels of fat in the stool indicates chronic pancreatitis. Therefore, the fatty stools indicate the insufficient absorption of the nutrients from the food.
The sophisticated imaging tests can provide a comprehensive diagnosis of the problem. the different imaging tests can provide clear visuals of the pancreas. So, your doctor can detect the presence of inflammation with precision. The abdomen imaging test that provides the signs of chronic pancreatitis are:
- MRI scans
- CT scans
The endoscopic ultrasound can provide in-depth information about the pancreas and other organs. During the procedure, your doctor inserts an endoscope down your mouth through a long, flexible tube. The tube can travel down your stomach as well as the small intestine. So, the tube containing the ultrasound probe can create detailed images. It is done with the help of the sound waves emitted through the probe. So, your doctor can make a conclusive diagnosis of the inflammation. It helps to detect chronic pancreatitis without hassle.
Chronic Pancreatitis Treatment Options
Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor develops an ideal treatment plan. The chronic pancreatitis treatment aims to provide you relief from pain. It also focusses on improving the digestive function. Chronic inflammation can damage your pancreas. You need to understand that the effects cannot reverse. So, you can only manage the symptoms with proper care. The doctor adopts specific treatment methods. It offers you reprieve from the distress you suffer due to the issue. Therefore, the treatment option available to reduce the signs are:
It is the first line of treatment. The different medications prescribed to the affected patients can resolve the following:
- Pain medication to alleviate the agony or distress suffered due to the inflammation of the pancreas.
- The artificial digestive enzymes to help digestion of the food in a normal manner. It can enhance the low enzyme levels that affect the digestion process.
- Regulate the sugar levels with the use of insulin. Chronic pancreatitis can result in diabetes. So, the insulin can counteract the issue.
- Steroids for pancreatitis triggered by autoimmune diseases. The steroids focus on countering the immune system’s attacks on the organ.
You may suffer from the chronic inflammation of the pancreas due to the blockages. So, your doctor can suggest endoscopy to remove the blockages. It also alleviates the pain you may suffer due to the issue. The endoscope has a camera at one end. The long and flexible tube of the endoscope can move through your pancreas. The device lowered through your mouth can check for stones and removes it successfully. It can also place tubes, small in size to improve bile flow. The tubes known as stents can close the leaks and improve the bile flow to the intestine.
In rare cases, your doctor can suggest surgery. Your doctor opts it only when the other treatment methods fail to provide you relief. So, you can resort to an invasive procedure to remove the part of the pancreas. Your doctor opts it when the medications and other techniques fail to provide a result. Invasive surgery can alleviate the pain. Therefore, the procedure can also unblock the ducts of the pancreas, widen the narrow ducts, and drain cysts.
Once you get diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, you have to make some lifestyle changes. The small yet significant changes in your day-to-day life can transform your health. It will show positive results in your condition. So, you need to adopt the following steps in your life:
- Avoid alcohol consumption. Even if the alcohol is not the original cause of your condition, avoiding it can ensure good health. It prevents further damage to the pancreas.
- Stop smoking. The excess nicotine can enhance your risk of getting cancer. With chronic pancreatitis, you are more at risk of getting pancreatic cancer. So, quit smoking.
- Limit the amount of fat you consume. The fats need excess bile juices to break it down. The complex structure of the fats does not make it easy on your digestive system. Therefore, once you get pancreatitis, limit the fat intake.
- You need to take vitamin supplements. At times, the problem can make your body lose the ability to absorb the vital nutrients. So, you need to take the external supplements to enhance your health.
You need to get prompt treatment for chronic pancreatitis to avoid it getting severe. The underlying cause and severity can decide the prognosis of the disease. With prompt medical care, you can overcome the problem. With proper medical assistance and a good lifestyle, you can manage the symptoms better. It will help you lead a normal life without having any pain or distress. So, never ignore the problem or its seriousness. Take adequate steps to control the problem from flaring up. When you notice the signs and symptoms associated with the problem, call your doctor immediately. Get treatment for better health.
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