Pancreatitis Q & A
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is inflammation of your pancreas, a small organ by your lower stomach and small intestine. Your pancreas has three chief functions: secreting digestive enzymes, secreting hormones to regulate your blood sugar level, and secreting sodium bicarbonate to neutralize stomach acid.
Pancreatitis may interfere with these important functions and cause permanent damage to your pancreas. The most common symptom of pancreatitis is severe pain in your upper abdomen. You might also experience nausea and vomiting.
What causes pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is categorized as short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic). Acute pancreatitis is typically brought on by gallstones and excessive alcohol consumption. Other causes include:
- High triglyceride levels
- High calcium levels
- Certain medications
- Abdominal trauma
- Viral infections
- Structural anomalies in your body
- Genetic abnormalities
Chronic pancreatitis causes ongoing inflammation in your pancreas, leading to the formation of scar tissue. The most common causes of chronic pancreatitis include excessive alcohol consumption and heavy smoking.
Repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis also lead to chronic pancreatitis.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
With acute pancreatitis, you typically experience:
- Gradual or sudden upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
- Nausea and vomiting
With chronic pancreatitis, your symptoms may include:
- Intermittent or constant abdominal pain
- Greasy or oily stools
- Weight loss
If you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain, it’s best to see Capitol Gastro for an evaluation right away or visit the emergency room.
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
Your doctor at Capitol Gastro takes a complete medical history, performs a physical exam, and recommends blood tests to measure the level of pancreatic enzymes. You may need an upper endoscopic ultrasound to rule out gallstones.
Depending on your condition, your doctor recommends imaging tests, such as a CT scan, or an endoscopic procedure.
How is pancreatitis treated?
Your treatment plan is designed for your form of pancreatitis. For example, with acute pancreatitis, your doctor typically advises you to rest your pancreas by limiting your intake of food for a time. You typically are administered pain medications and IV fluids, as necessary.
Your doctor works with you to identify and eliminate the cause of your pancreatitis. If alcohol is causing your condition, you’ll want to abstain from alcohol.
If you’ve been suffering from severe abdominal pain, it’s time to rely on Capitol Gastro for expert diagnosis and treatment. Call today to book a consultation.