At the organ level, pancreatitis is caused by inflammation. But why does this inflammation set in, how problematic is the condition, and how are the best ways to treat pancreatitis? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
The Causes and Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Before we dive into the causes of pancreatitis, let’s take a closer look at the function of the pancreas. Your pancreas is responsible for producing enzymes that help with the digestive process, and it also produces hormones that helps your body process glucose. When inflammation sets in, these processes can get thrown out of whack, and that can lead to pain or other health problems, like diabetes.
Pancreatitis develops when digestive enzymes activate while still in the pancreas, which leads to cell irritation and inflammation. If this happens very infrequently, it’s known as acute pancreatitis. If the pain begins to happen more frequently, the condition can transition into what’s known as chronic pancreatitis. This can lead to scar tissue in the pancreas, and eventually inhibited pancreatic function.
Symptoms of acute and chronic pancreatitis include:
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Upper abdominal pain
- Rapid pulse
- Pain that radiates to your back
- Rapid weight loss without trying
If you have any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with an endocrine specialist like Dr. Koeplin sooner rather than later.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If pancreatitis is suspected, your doctor will conduct some physical tests and ask you about your symptoms. From there, they may opt for imaging tests like an ultrasound to look for the development of gallstones or pancreatic inflammation, or they may order a blood test to look for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with acute or chronic pancreatitis, your specialist will talk to you about your options. They may include a procedure to remove bile duct obstructions, dietary changes, reducing or giving up smoking or alcohol consumption, or surgery to address the gallbladder or pancreas. You may also be prescribed certain medications to help ensure you have the correct amount of pancreatic enzymes in your system.
Prevention is preferred to treatment, so make sure you are eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, staying hydrated and avoiding lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol abuse, as these can all help to keep your pancreas healthy. For more information or to get a diagnosis, reach out to Dr. Koeplin’s office today.