Pancreatitis – Explained in Simple Terms

Before proceeding to the various forms of pancreatitis diagnosis, you need to know the difference between acute and chronic pancreatitis. This is essential before any treatment can be administered.

Acute Pancreatitis

This condition results in pancreas inflammation that suddenly appears. It also clears up usually in a few days. If the condition doesn’t improve or not treated, it can be life threatening and cause various complications. A gallstone is the most common cause. Heavy drinking is another culprit. If the cause is alcohol, the symptoms can manifest in a matter of days or hours.

Symptoms and Signs

Acute Pancreatitis
Acute Pancreatitis

Pain in the abdomen may be gradual or sudden. The sensation may extend to the back. The pain gets worse after the patient eats. The person will feel very ill. Other symptoms are a rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, nausea, a swollen and tender abdomen. Severe symptoms include low blood pressure, dehydration, kidney, lung or heart failure. Immediate medical assistance is necessary.

Acute Pancreatitis Diagnosis:

A doctor will ask or check your medical history. You will undergo a blood test and a thorough physical examination. If you have acute pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes lipase and amylase will be three times the normal level.

The amount of bicarbonate, potassium, sodium and glucose will change too. Additional diagnostic procedures may consist of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), computerized tomography (CT) scan and abdominal ultrasound.

Treatment:

Patients may be required to stay in a hospital for a few days. Antibiotics and other medications may be given. If the condition doesn’t improve in a few days, nasogastric feeding will be needed; a tube will be used to give liquid to the patient.

Chronic Pancreatitis

This condition produces inflammation of the pancreas. Unlike acute conditions, the pain doesn’t go away; it gets more painful over time. Often, those who undergo chronic pancreatitis diagnosis are individuals in their 30s or 40s. The chronic condition may be brought about by an acute attack.

Causes include medicines, hypertriglyceridemia—high levels of blood fats, hypocalcaemia—high levels of calcium in the blood, cystic fibrosis and hereditary pancreatic disorders. But the most common culprit is heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages.

Symptoms and Signs

There is pain in the upper abdomen although some people don’t feel any pain. Those who do experience pain say it reaches the back. It also gets worse when you drink or eat. Other symptoms include oily stools, diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting and nausea. They also lose weight but their appetite is normal. But they still lose weight because the pancreatic enzymes generated are not sufficient for digestion. The end result is the body loses nutrition.

Chronic pancreatitis diagnosis requires a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history. You will undergo a blood test. This is necessary to check if the body is generating sufficient enzymes.

If the condition has worsened and diabetes or malabsorption takes place, stool and urine tests may be required. The abdomen will be X-rayed and MRCP performed. Other tests such as EUS, CT scan and abdominal ultrasound may be needed.

Treatment also requires hospitalization, nutritional support and IV hydration. If the patient continues to lose weight, Nasogastric feedings will be necessary. This may last for several weeks. Once the person is discharged, they will be given a low fat diet. Whether the condition is chronic or acute, drinking plenty of water and other fluids is recommended.

About

Jenny Richards is a free lancer writer and content builder of many sites.
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