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What is pancreatitis?

it is the inflammation and autodigestion of the pancreas. Autodigestion describes a process whereby pancreatic enzymes destroy its own tissue leading to inflammation. The inflammation may be sudden or ongoing.

What causes pancreatitis?

  • gallstones that block the pancreatic duct
  • alcohol abuse, which can lead to blockage of the small pancreatic ductules
  • abdominal trauma or surgery
  • kidney failure
  • lupus
  • infections, such as mumps, hepatitis A or B, or salmonella
  • cystic fibrosis
  • presence of a tumor
  • a venomous sting from a scorpion

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

  • abdominal pain that may radiate to the back or chest
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rapid pulse rare
  • fever
  • swelling in the upper abdomen
  • fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity
  • dropping blood pressure
  • mild jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes

How is pancreatitis diagnosed?

  • abdominal x-ray -  A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • various blood tests
  • ultrasound (also called sonography) - A diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) - A procedure that allows the doctor to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas
  • computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) - A diagnostic imaging procedure using a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body.
  • electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - A test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.
  • magnetic resonances cholangiopancreatography (MCRP) - A test that produces images of body parts by injecting dye into a patient's veins that helps show the pancreas, gallbladder, and pancreatic and bile ducts.

Treatments for pancreatitis

Specific treatment for pancreatitis will be determined by your doctor based on

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the diereses
  • your opinion of preference 
The overall goal for treatment of pancreatitis is to rest the pancreas and allow it to recover from the inflammation. treatment may include,

  • hospitalization for observation and intravenous (IV) feeding
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • surgery
  • antibiotics
  • avoiding alcohol (if the pancreatitis is caused by alcohol abuse)
  • pain management 
  • frequent blood tests (to monitor electrolytes and kidney function)
  • no food by mouth for several days
  • bed rest or light activity only
  • placement of a nasogastric tube (tube inserted into the nose that ends up in the stomach)
Individuals with chronic pancreatitis mas also require.

  • enzyme supplements to aid in food digestion
  • insulin (if diabetes develops)
  • small high-protein meals
  • medications to decrease gastric acid production in the stomach 
Acute pancreatitis is self-limiting, meaning it usually resolves on its own over time. Up to 90 percent of individuals recover from acute pancreatitis without any complications. Chronic pancreatitis may also be self-limiting, but may resolve after several attacks and with a greater risk of developing long-term problems, such as diabetes, chronic pain, diarrhea, ascites, biliary cirrhosis, bile duct obstruction, or pancreatic cancer.