Pancreatitis Treatment in Bristol, VA
What is Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is a large gland, located behind the stomach and above the small intestine, that produces hormones and enzymes involved in digestion and blood glucose metabolism. The pancreas is responsible for releasing glucagon and insulin into your bloodstream. It also secretes essential digestive enzymes that break down protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing the digestive enzymes it produces to attack the pancreas itself. If pancreatitis reaches a severe, acute level, vital organs like the kidneys, liver, heart or lungs can suffer damage.
If you think you may be suffering from pancreatitis, schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Bristol who specializes in pancreatitis treatment. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.
Acute pancreatitis involves sudden, severe damage or loss of function of the pancreas. It is almost always caused by gallstones or excessive alcohol consumption, or a combination of the two. In roughly 10 percent of cases, acute pancreatitis is caused by trauma, surgery or certain medications (e.g. tetracycline, azathioprine, thiazide, etc.). Also in this 10 percent, there are some infectious agents that can lead to pancreatitis, including mumps, coxsackie B virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), candida, HIV, salmonella, shigella, e.coli, legionella, leptospirosis.
Chronic pancreatitis involves gradual damage to pancreatic tissue and loss of pancreatic function over time. More than 90 percent of chronic pancreatitis cases result from the scarring and tissue damage caused by long-term alcohol abuse. In rare cases, chronic pancreatitis is caused by hereditary disorders impacting the pancreas. Sometimes pancreatitis can be of unknown origin or idiopathic. Other rare causes of pancreatitis include:
- Pancreas Divisum
- Cystic Fibrosis
- High triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia)
- High calcium levels (hypercalcemia)
Pancreatitis Symptoms & Diagnosis
How do you know if you have pancreatitis? The tell-tale symptom of acute pancreatitis is a swollen, tender abdomen with upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back and is aggravated by eating. Additional acute pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid pulse
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain (typically not as severe as acute pancreatitis)
- Oily stools
- Food malabsorption and weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
If you or your healthcare provider suspect pancreatitis is responsible for your painful symptoms, a physical examination and review of your medical history are necessary. A blood test is utilized to check the levels of digestive enzymes in the blood. CT scans, ultrasounds, retrograde pancreatography (ERCP), glucose tolerance tests and pancreatic function tests may be recommended to assist in making an accurate pancreatitis diagnosis.
How to Treat Pancreatitis
To treat pancreatitis effectively, it is essential to differentiate not only the causes of your symptoms but whether the condition is acute or chronic. Your pancreatitis treatment plan may consist of certain diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medications and possibly surgery.
Acute pancreatitis is almost always treated in a hospital setting with IV fluids, pain medication, and possibly surgery to remove parts of the pancreas that have sustained irreparable damage. Fasting is sometimes employed as it can help accelerate healing of the pancreas and may even restore function. Repairing damage to other vital organs may also be necessary. If the acute condition is caused by gallstones, surgery to remove the gallbladder or operate on your bile duct may be necessary.
With chronic pancreatitis, patients may have metabolic issues and severe nutritional deficiencies as they lose pancreatic function. Insulin, pancreatic enzymes, and pain medications are all part of the ongoing treatment regime. Surgery for blocked ducts and surgical drainage may also be necessary as the pancreas swells with fluid.
The most important lifestyle change will involve avoiding alcohol. Smoking should be discontinued because it impedes immunity and healing. Your healthcare providers will likely evaluate any medications you are taking and make recommendations. Minimizing stress, getting enough sleep and maintaining proper fluid levels are also key for healing.
Pancreatitis patients do best with a low-fat diet, low in salt and sugar, free from processed and refined foods. Eliminating sweeteners and foods high on the glycemic index is recommended since sugar depresses immune function, disrupts blood sugar and energy levels and increases inflammation.
Changes in your diet and lifestyle, together with certain medications and procedures can effectively slow damage to your pancreas and manage disabling symptoms. Request more information about how to treat pancreatitis with the help of a qualified healthcare provider in Bristol today. Call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
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