Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis symptoms

The pancreas is a very important organ in the body, and its inflammation can cause a myriad of clinical problems such as digestive disorders or extreme pain. Chronic inflammation of the pancreas is known as chronic pancreatitis, and below are a few of the symptoms associated with the condition.

  • Weight loss and altered stools: The pancreas is responsible for synthesis and secretion of enzymes that help digestion and absorption in the intestine. When inflamed, these tasks are disrupted, and as a result, chronic pancreatitis causes weight loss, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, oily and clay-colored stool.
  • Abdominal and back pain: Another common symptom of chronic pancreatitis is continuous pain. The pain is usually at the upper abdomen, and can be severe. However, a patient may experience no pain at all, or pain in the back instead. Chronic pancreatitis pain may be aggravated by eating and drinking, especially alcoholic beverages
  • Onset of diabetes: The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin. Destruction of pancreatic cells can result in decreased insulin production, which is needed to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. As a result, diabetes can result from chronic pancreatitis.

Chronic pancreatitis treatment

Chronic pancreatitis treatment mainly depends on the stage, and symptoms of the disease.

  • Pain

Pain killers may be needed for patients with severe pain. Some patients can become dependent on these medications after some time.

  • Digestive disorders

In the acute phase, some patients may not be able to eat orally. Thus, doctors may insert an oral or nasal tube to administer nutrients directly into the intestine for absorption. After some time, small amounts of proper diet may be orally given to patients. Also, doctors may prescribe digestive enzymes to help with the digestion.

  • Diabetic symptoms

As the pancreas is responsible for insulin secretion, if the pancreas is inflamed or damaged, patients may need to take anti-diabetic medications so as to control blood sugar levels.

Surgery for chronic pancreatitis

For selected cases of chronic pancreatitis symptoms, surgery may be considered. Some of the recommended surgeries include:

  • Nerve-block surgery which aims at relieving pain.
  • Pancreaticojejunostomy (Drainage procedure): Pancreaticojejunostomy is a surgical procedure that aims at relieving pain by relieving the blockage in the pancreas as well as the increasing pressure. Typically, such patients will have pancreatic duct stones or strictures causing the blockage.

Surgery to manage chronic pancreatitis may also include removal of the pancreas, which can take either or the following forms:

  • Partial removal of the pancreas
  • Total removal of the pancreas

The removal of the pancreas, either partially or fully, has been noted to reduce pain in patients with chronic pancreatitis. In the case of a total removal of the pancreas, transplantation of islet cells can be a consideration in order to prevent diabetes.

Chronic pancreatitis diet

Along with chronic pancreatitis surgery and treatment, dietary changes can help manage chronic pancreatitis. Below are some common changes one could make to help improve chronic pancreatitis.

  • Increase daily water and liquids intake
  • Eat small and frequent meals; instead of eating few large meals.
  • Lower the intake of caffeine and foods containing fat content.