Pancreatitis is a painful digestive disorder that affects your pancreas, the gland responsible for producing digestive juices (enzymes) and hormones that regulate blood sugar. It occurs when enzymes, intended to help you digest food, start digesting your pancreas instead. Your belly might swell on the upper left side, where your pancreas sits. Pancreatitis can be deadly if left untreated.
Symptoms may vary, depending on the type of pancreatitis you have:
- Acute (sudden): may come and go quickly within a few days, with treatment
- Chronic (long-lasting, slow to develop): an ongoing condition that gets worse over time
- Familial (hereditary): An inherited form of pancreatitis that is passed down in families
- Usually, symptoms of family pancreatitis begin at a young age, and the condition progresses to chronic pancreatitis
Typical signs and symptoms include:
- Fluid buildup in your belly
- Lowered blood pressure
- Severe stomachache that may spread to your back or chest (it may feel worse after you eat)
- Rapid heart rate Swelling and feeling sore or tender in your upper belly or abdomen
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
In addition to the symptoms above, chronic pancreatitis signs and symptoms also include:
- Losing weight without trying
- Oily, smelly stools (steatorrhea)
A blood test can check for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes.
If you have chronic pancreatitis, a stool test can measure levels of fat that could suggest your digestive system isn't absorbing nutrients adequately.
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
A CT scan can check for gallstones, and assess the extent of pancreas inflammation.
An ultrasound of the abdomen can check for gallstones, and assess the extent of pancreas inflammation.
This test can look for inflammation and blockages in the pancreatic duct or bile duct.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI can look for abnormalities in the gallbladder, pancreas, and ducts.
An X-ray allows your doctor to closely inspect your internal tissues, bones, and organs.
Intravenous (IV) Fluids
You may need intravenous fluids to help replenish vital fluids in the body that were lost due to pancreatitis.
If you have an infection, your GI doctor will likely prescribe antibiotic medication.
You may need medication to help control your pain related to pancreatitis.
You may need to go on a temporary fasting diet, with clear liquids only or at least a low-fat diet. You may need to take enzymes to improve your digestion. Depending on the severity of your pancreatitis, you may need a feeding tube.
Depending on the cause of your pancreatitis, you may need a procedure to remove bile duct obstructions, or gallbladder or pancreas surgery.
If your pancreatitis is alcohol-induced, you will need to undergo treatment for alcohol dependence.
Why Choose UHealth?
A motility lab for accurate diagnosis of GI conditions. The only facility of its kind in South Florida, our motility lab enables our GI specialists to provide accurate diagnoses of GI conditions more quickly and efficiently. We offer a variety of leading-edge services, such as hydrogen breath testing, anal-rectal manometry, and bio-feedback.
A broad array of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Regardless of your age, condition, or whether you need long- or short-term digestive treatments, you will receive the most accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment to keep your stomach, digestive system, and organs healthy.
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