What is pancreatitis and how is it caused?

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis refers to the condition where the pancreas gets irritated or swollen. This organ is that which is responsible for the generation of the hormones and juices the breakdown food in the body.

The condition can cause severe abdominal pain. While many suffer from this condition with any long-term health effects, a few, in fact, get very sick.

While there are numerous causal factors behind pancreatitis, in most cases, gallstones and alcoholism are the main causes.

Gallstones are stones that are found inside the gallbladder. Both the pancreas and the gallbladder drain into a single tube. When this gets clogged by a gallstone or two, their organs are unable to empty themselves. When this occurs, the fluids from these organs get stored, which can cause pain.

In terms of alcohol abuse, those who consume alcohol frequently and have done so over a long period of time, may develop alcohol-related pancreatitis. Those suffering from this condition will start to feel pain 1-3 days after consuming significant quantities of alcohol or if they abruptly stop drinking.

What are the warning signs of pancreatitis?

  • Pain in the upper left abdomen, which worsens after eating fatty food

  • Fever

  • The area around the pancreas feels tender

How is pancreatitis tested and treated?

Patients are usually screened for this condition may have to undergo a few blood tests or a CT scan of your stomach to check if the pain is being caused by pancreatitis or is the result of another cause.

In terms of treatment, you will be administered fluids or medicine to help with the pain. If you cannot eat, food will be provided to you through a tube. Some with this condition subsequently develop an infection, which is treatable through medication.

Sometimes, those with pancreatitis develop can experience fluid buildup which can lead to organ failure. While this may go away on its own, fluid sometimes needs to be drained or addressed through surgery.

In this process, it is crucial that the cause of your pancreatitis is taken care of. If this is caused by gallstones, these need to be taken care of as well.

Which food items can trigger pancreatitis? 

How long can someone live with untreated pancreatitis? 

What can cause chronic pancreatitis? 

Is chronic pancreatitis painful? 

How long will it take the pancreas to heal after acute pancreatitis? 

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