Chronic pancreatitis is a continuous inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes and making the hormones glucagons and insulin.
The origin of chronic pancreatitis is most frequently alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Sometimes however the cause cannot be established. Other causes include the blood containing high levels of calcium, birth defects, high blood fats, and cystic fibrosis. In occasional cases, some drugs or injury can cause chronic pancreatitis. A chronic blockage of the pancreatic duct is also linked with chronic pancreatitis. Generally, any circumstance that brings about frequent attacks of acute pancreatitis may produce chronic pancreatitis. For this reason finding, the cause of acute pancreatitis and treating immediately may help to avert chronic pancreatitis.
Chronic pancreatitis destroys the function of the glandular tissue of the pancreas. This results in a lack of pancreatic enzymes, which hinders the ability to properly digest fat. Insulin production is also affected, which can lead to diabetes. Chronic pancreatitis happens more often in men than in women. This may be because more men have alcohol-use disorders.
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are attacks of abdominal pain usually in the upper abdomen, which may radiate to the back and digestive troubles, which become more recurrent as the condition develops. Pancreatic cancer may cause symptoms and signs comparable to chronic pancreatitis. The stomach pain may last from hours to days and finally become nonstop. It may become worse by eating, drinking and alcohol consumption. Sometimes it is possible to relieve stomach pain by sitting up and leaning forwards. Other pancreatic cancer symptoms include vomiting, nausea, pale colored or fatty stools and involuntary weight loss.
Chronic pancreatitis diagnosis can be difficult. A pancreatic test can help decide whether the pancreas is still making enough digestive enzymes. Typically, elevated lipase and amylase levels and low trypsinogen levels are indicative of pancreatitis. Also endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, ultrasonic imaging and CAT scans, are used to find problems associated with chronic pancreatitis. Problems like excess of calcium salts causing pancreatic tissues to harden. In later stages of chronic pancreatitis, blood, urine, and stool tests to help diagnose diabetes and malabsorption.
Treatment for Chronic pancreatitis may involve surgery if a blockage is found. In progressive cases, removal of part or the entire pancreas may be necessary. Stomach pain can be relieved with analgesics or a surgical nerve block and blood sugar levels controlled with insulin.
Managing chronic pancreatitis is best achieved by diet. Firstly, it is necessary to abstain from drinking alcohol. A low fat, high fiber diet helps to reduce pancreatic stimulation and therefore alleviate the indigestion caused by fat. Enzyme supplements taken with meals also aid digestion. It is also a good idea to take vitamin and calcium supplement and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.