Pancreatitis (acute/ chronic)
Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. The pancreas is a long flat gland that is placed behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. It secretes enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that regulate the production of sugar in the body.
Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis may appear suddenly and last for a few days. Chronic pancreatitis can pose a problem for years.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Rapid pulse
- Tenderness on touching the abdomen
- Abdominal pain radiating backward.
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms are:
- Smelly stools
- Unintentional weight loss
- Upper abdominal pain.
What causes pancreatitis?
Sometimes the digestive enzymes become active in the pancreas itself and cause irritation and inflammation resulting in pancreatitis. Repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis can damage the pancreas, causing loss of function. This may eventually lead to digestive problems and diabetes.
What are the factors that increase the risk of pancreatitis?
- Alcoholism – studies reveal that those who consume a large amount of alcohol are at a higher risk of suffering from pancreatitis.
- Obesity – people who are overweight are more likely to get pancreatitis.
- Smoking – smokers are at a higher risk of pancreatitis as compared to non-smokers. Quitting smoking reduces the risk to half.
- Family history of pancreatitis – having family members with a history of pancreatitis increases your chances of getting the same.
What complications are associated with pancreatitis?
- Pancreatic cancer – long-term inflammation in the cells can further develop into pancreatic cancer.
- Diabetes – damage to insulin-producing cells is a major cause of diabetes.
- Malnutrition – the enzymes secreted by the pancreas break down the food. If the pancreas is not functioning properly, the body is not able to absorb nutrients and this results in malnutrition.
- Pseudocyst – pancreatitis can cause fluids to accumulate in cysts which can rupture and cause serious complications.
- Infection – pancreatitis makes the pancreas vulnerable to bacterial and other infections.
- Kidney failure – acute pancreatitis can cause kidney failure.