What is Acute Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is an organ that secretes hormones like insulin and several digestive enzymes. It is situated right behind the stomach. The inflammation of the pancreas is called acute pancreatitis.
Some of the types of acute pancreatitis:
- Mild acute pancreatitis: In this condition, the inflammation in the pancreas is mild.
- Severe acute pancreatitis: When the inflammation in pancreas is very severe, it is known severe acute pancreatitis. This can trigger fatal complications if not treated well.
Acute Pancreatitis Symptoms
Acute pancreatitis is marked by a sharp pain in the upper abdominal region which ultimately reaches up to back. The main acute pancreatitis symptoms are:
- Sudden pain in the upper abdomen
- Rarely, pain also starts in the lower abdomen
- If not controlled, pain starts moving towards the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid pulse
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
- Pain while taking deep breaths or doing vigorous movements
- Fluctuations in blood pressure which eventually may cause faintness
Who is at risk?
Certain eating and drinking habits can become acute pancreatitis risk factors. Some people have a high risk of developing pancreatitis who:
- Drink too much alcohol
- Smoke tobacco
- Have a family history of tumors or any other pancreatic condition
- Have diagnosed with having gallstones
There are certain diseases that can lead to developing acute pancreatitis. People with the following diseases are prone to have acute pancreatitis:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Kawasaki disease
- Infections like mumps and mycoplasma
- Reye’s syndrome
Acute Pancreatitis Causes
Acute pancreatitis can occur directly and indirectly. While direct causes affect the pancreas itself, the indirect causes are conditions or diseases that originate somewhere else in the body. Some common reasons for acute pancreatitis usually are as follows:
- Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly for many years can cause inflammation in the pancreas.
- Gallstones: Small stones like structures in the gallbladder can cause blockage in the enzyme secretion duct. The effect of this blockage eventually reaches up to the pancreas and starts causing inflammation.
- Infections: Several kinds of bacterial and viral infections in the blood can develop acute pancreatitis.
There are some other not so common acute pancreatitis causes which include:
- Injury in the pancreas
- Abnormal levels of calcium in the blood
- Excessive triglyceride in the blood
- Genetic Mutations
How is Acute Pancreatitis diagnosed?
Acute pancreatitis diagnosis is simply done by analyzing the symptoms and examining the abdomen. If the doctor finds your symptoms similar to that of acute pancreatitis, and your abdomen shows sensitivity to touch, there are high chances that you have developed acute pancreatitis.
However, if the doctor is unsure by physical examination, some acute pancreatitis test might be taken. A few common tests are:
- Blood test: To check the amount of two digestive enzymes called amylase and lipase, doctors take the blood test. High amount of these enzymes indicates acute pancreatitis.
- ERCP scan: In this test, a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the digestive system to detect gallstones.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan is usually done to have an image of the pancreas and gallbladder.
How is Acute Pancreatitis treated?
Unlike other common diseases, acute pancreatitis cure needs extra care. If someone is diagnosed with the conditions, the following steps are done to treat the condition:
- Acute pancreatitis treatment starts with the hospitalization of the patient. The patient is admitted to take tests and given intravenous fluid.
- Medicines are given to lower the chances of any infection and reduce pain.
- If medications don’t work, surgery might be done to remove the damaged part of the organ or remove gallstones.
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How can Acute Pancreatitis be prevented?
Acute pancreatitis prevention can be done by following healthy eating and drinking habits. Some of the prevention measures you can take to keep a check on acute pancreatitis are as follows:
- Drinking water regularly can reduce the chances of having pancreas infection.
- Take alcohol in a limited amount. If you are diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, you should stop taking alcohol altogether.
- Eat a low-fat diet.
- Perform regular exercise and lose excess weight
- Quit smoking