1130 Upper Hembree Rd. Roswell GA 30076



Do you have upper abdominal pain that radiates to your back (especially after eating), fever, nausea, and abdominal tenderness? It could be pancreatitis - severe inflammation of the pancreas that can come on suddenly (acute), or gradually, over time (chronic).

Your pancreas is a small, tadpole-shaped organ that sits below and behind your stomach. It's responsible for aiding digestion and regulating blood sugar. When your digestive enzymes don't drain properly, they build up inside your pancreas and can cause inflammation, scar tissue, and loss of function.

Pancreatitis isn't immediately life-threatening, but if the pain is so bad you can't sit still or find a comfortable position, don't wait - seek emergency medical attention right away.

Otherwise, ask your healthcare provider to explain and compare all the treatment options and craft a strategy that's best for you.

Pancreatitis symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on whether it's acute or chronic.

Acute symptoms include:

  • upper abdominal pain that radiates to your back, especially after eating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • rapid pulse
  • tenderness when touching upper abdomen

Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:

  • all the symptoms of acute pancreatitis
  • slow, steady weight loss
  • oily, terrible-smelling diarrhea (steatorrhea)

Seeing a medical provider to diagnose or rule out pancreatitis is important, as it is often mistaken for these common health problems:

What causes pancreatitis?

About 70% of chronic pancreatitis cases in the U.S. are caused by long-time alcohol use. Other causes include:

  • tobacco use
  • gallstones
  • medications like thiazide diuretics, estrogen, steroids, salicylates, and NSAIDs
  • autoimmune imbalances like lupus
  • hereditary conditions like cystic fibrosis
  • trauma or surgery

Pancreatitis can lead to many pancreatic conditions, including:

  • diabetes
  • gallstones
  • exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • cystic fibrosis
  • pancreatic cancer
  • pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts
  • hyperparathyroidism

These complications can arise from pancreatitis if left untreated:

  • breathing problems: pancreatitis can cause chemical changes that affect lung function, causing blood oxygen levels to fall dangerously low
  • malnutrition: when your pancreas creates fewer enzymes needed for digestion and nutrient absorption it can cause malnutrition, diarrhea, and weight loss, even if you eat the same amount of food
  • pancreatic cancer: long-term inflammation can cause cell mutations that form into cancerous tumors or cysts
  • diabetes
  • kidney failure

Preventing pancreatitis

The first step toward avoiding pancreatitis is choosing a pancreas-healthy diet.

Quit drinking alcohol and smoking

As alcohol abuse is the commonest cause of chronic pancreatitis and the second-most common cause of acute pancreatitis,1 the first step is to stop drinking it. Alcohol contains toxic chemicals called metabolites (acetaldehyde, FAEEs, and ROS), that damage the pancreas on a cellular level. When alcohol alters the pancreas' ability to create alcohol-metabolizing enzymes, accumulation of these harmful metabolites occurs and tissue damage is the result. In time, this damage becomes irreversible.

Smoking also has severe negative effects on your pancreas. A recent study showed that 84,667 smokers between the ages of 46-84 had twice the risk for non-gallstone related acute pancreatitis than non-smokers did.2 Quitting smoking reduces your risk of pancreatitis down to the level of non-smokers.

Smoking is also directly related to pancreatic cancer. This disease is related to damage done to your DNA, and smoking damages your pancreas on a cellular level. If the carcinogens in tobacco smoke damage enough pancreatic cells, they may mutate and form into cancerous cells.

Exercise regularly

When you avoid exercise, the cholesterol levels in your body begin building up in your blood. Over time, this cholesterol becomes too much for your body to process normally, and it begins forming into stones in your gallbladder. These stones increase your risk for pancreatitis.

By exercising at least 150 minutes each week and maintaining your healthy diet, you can lose excess weight and remain at a healthy BMI (body mass index). This is the main preventative step for avoiding gallstones, and thus avoiding pancreatitis too.

Yoga is a gentle exercise, stretching, and meditative regimen that aims to heal your body and mind. A recent study shows that practicing yoga can reduce pain and anxiety in chronic pancreatitis patients.4

Diagnosing pancreatitis

First, your medical provider will examine you and discuss your current symptoms, medical history, and any medications you're taking. If pancreatitis is suspected, you may undergo a number of these tests:

  • blood test: to detect elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes
  • stool test: to measure fat levels that suggest your digestive system isn't absorbing nutrients normally
  • glucose tolerance test: measures damage to the pancreas cells that produce insulin
  • transabdominal ultrasound: sound waves detect gallstones that can cause pancreatitis
  • computerized tomography (CT): detailed imaging of pancreas and surrounding anatomy
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): provides a sharper image of your pancreas and other digestive organs, including inflamed areas, than CT scan or ultrasound imaging
  • endoscopy: while you're under anesthesia, a long, flexible tube is inserted down the throat in order to observe the digestive system typically using ultrasound guidance; real-time images appear on a monitor, allowing collection of fluid from a cyst or pseudocyst
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): shows your provider the structure of your bile ducts and pancreatic duct
  • TCM diagnosis: pulse, face, tongue, palpitation, voice analysis alerts practitioner to patterns of dysfunction in the body

Treating pancreatitis

As with any medical procedure, treatment results will vary from patient to patient depending on age, genetics, general health, condition severity, follow-up care, and environmental factors. Consult your healthcare provider before embarking on your treatment journey.

The following pharmaceutical, regenerative, nutritional, and herbal treatments may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical conditions. Always consult your health care professional before deciding which treatment to try first.

People with acute pancreatitis are typically treated with IV fluids and pain medications in the hospital. In some patients, the pancreatitis can be severe and they may need to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) to be closely watched for heart, lungs, or kidney damage. Pain can be managed a number of ways.

Other treatments for acute pancreatitis and its complications include:

  • smoking cessation: smoking the leading causes of pancreatic disorders
  • synthetic human or porcine secretin
  • intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration
  • surgically removing bile duct obstructions
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • gallbladder surgery
  • pancreas surgery

Treatments for chronic pancreatitis include:

  • alcohol dependence treatment: alcohol is the commonest cause of chronic pancreatitis and the second-most common cause of acute pancreatitis1
  • nutritional and supplemental treatment: including pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)
  • botanical medicine: herbs like curcumin have been shown to control inflammation5
  • stem cell therapy: studies show Mesenchymal Stems Cells can have anti-inflammatory6 effects on the pancreas
  • bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT): can treat the effects of parathyroid disorders, thwarting onset of pancreatitis
  • acupuncture therapy: may correct hormonal imbalances in pancreas7

These conditions contribute to pancreatitis, and their treatments may address it:

  • hyperparathyroidism
  • diabetes
  • gallstones
  • exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • cystic fibrosis
  • pancreatic cancer
  • pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts

Reserve your appointment today

Dealing with acute or chronic pancreatitis can be debilitating and distressing. However, there are many treatment options available, and taking preventative steps can help you keep one bout of the condition from becoming chronic.

Start improving your pancreas today by choosing a pancreas-sensitive lifestyle, so you can avoid pancreatitis or better manage your chronic condition. A dedicated medical provider can help you take the first steps and monitor your condition while guiding you toward a happier, healthier lifestyle free from chronic pancreas pain.

To speak with a pancreatitis specialist today in Alpharetta, call (770) 674-6311 or contact Dr. Gail Ravello online.


1. Wilcox, C. Mel. "Exam 2: Alcohol and Smoking as Risk Factors in an Epidemiology Study of Patients With Chronic Pancreatitis." Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, vol. 9, no. 3, 2011, doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2011.01.009.

2. Greer, Julia B. et al. "Epidemiologic and Mechanistic Associations Between Smoking and Pacreatitis. Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology, vol.13, no.3, 2015,pp.332-346

3. Juel, Jacob, et al. "Acupuncture for Pain in Chronic Pancreatitis." Pancreas, vol. 46, no. 2, 2017, pp. 170-176., doi:10.1097/mpa.0000000000000749.

4. Sareen, Surinder. "Yoga: A Tool for Improving the Quality of Life in Chronic Pancreatitis." World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 13, no. 3, 21 Jan. 2007, p. 391., doi:10.3748/wjg.v13.i3.391.

5. Gulcubuk A, Haktanir D, Cakiris A, Ustek D, Guzel O, Erturk M, Karabagli M, Akyazi I, Cicekci H, Altunatmaz K, Uzun H, Ates K. Effects of curcumin on proinflammatory cytokines and tissue injury in the early and late phases of experimental acute pancreatitis. Pancreatology. 2013 Jul-Aug;13(4):347-54. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 May 21

6. Kawakubo K, Ohnishi S, Kuwatani M, Sakamoto N. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for acute and chronic pancreatitis. J Gastroenterol 2018 Jan;53(1):1-5. doi: 10.1007/s00535-017-1363-9. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

7. Juel J, Liguori S, Liguori A, Poulsen JL, Valeriani M, Graversen C, Olesen SS, Drewes AM. Acupuncture for Pain in Chronic Pancreatitis: A Single-Blinded Randomized Crossover Trial. Pancreas. 2017 Feb;46(2):170-176. doi: 10.1097/MPA

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Hours and Directions
Natural Medical Solutions Wellness Center


1130 Upper Hembree Rd.
Roswell, GA 30076
(770) 674-6311


Mon: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Areas We Service:

Jacksonville, FL, Macon, GA, Savannah, GA, Canton, GA, Woodstock, GA, Acworth, GA, Austell, GA, Marietta, GA, Powder Springs, GA, Smyrna, GA, Cumming, GA, Alpharetta, GA, Atlanta, GA, Duluth, GA, Norcross, GA, Suwanee, GA, Gainesville, GA, Dallas, GA, Jasper, GA, Cobb, GA