Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and is classified in two ways: Acute and chronic.
Acute pancreatitis is characterized by the onset of severe abdominal pain. It usually begins with gradual or sudden pain in the upper abdomen that sometimes extends through the back. The pain may be mild at first and worsen after eating. Pain may also become severe and last for several days. A person with acute pancreatitis usually looks and feels very ill and needs immediate medical attention.
Chronic pancreatitis is abdominal pain that worsens over time. Most people with chronic pancreatitis experience upper abdominal pain, although some people have no pain at all. The pain may spread to the back, feel worse when eating or drinking, and become constant and disabling. In some cases, abdominal pain goes away as the condition worsens, most likely because the pancreas is no longer making digestive enzymes.
Some of the more common causes for acute or chronic pancreatitis are: alcoholism, gallstones, high triglycerides, pancreatic cancer, abdominal surgery, smoking, side effects of certain medications, cystic fibrosis, injury to the abdomen, or a family history of pancreatitis.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Common symptoms of acute and chronic pancreatitis include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatty stools, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, elevated heartbeat, excessive thirst, and fatigue.
Treatment of Pancreatitis
It’s important than you seek treatment for pancreatitis from a specially-trained gastroenterologist. Treatment will depend on the cause of your pancreatitis, but may include options such as prescription medication or enzymes. More serious forms of pancreatitis may require gallbladder surgery, pancreatic surgery, or procedures to remove bile duct obstructions.
Did You Know?
- Pancreatitis affects as many as 30 people per 100,000.
- The majority of cases occur in people aged 40 to 60.
- Acute pancreatitis was first described in 1882, while chronic pancreatitis was first described in 1946.
The Southeast Gastro team is here to help with your pancreatitis diagnosis and treatment. If you think you have pancreatitis, please call us today or click here to request an appointment.