Pancreatitis and Self-Care
According to Rightdiagnosis.com, about 80,000 cases of acute pancreatitis are admitted to hospitals each year. About 20% of these cases are severe. The Journal of Gasteroenterology states that, “Acute pancreatitis is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal causes of hospital admission in the United States,” and notes that while chronic pancreatitis is treatable, it significantly lowers the quality of life for those suffering with it.
Pancreatitis can be a deadly disorder that is why it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as you notice any pancreatitis or pancreas symptoms.
With the proper treatment, you can heal from pancreatitis and be healthy again!
What is pancreatitis?
According to WebMD, pancreatitis occurs because of the inflamed pancreas gland. This gland is located in the upper abdomen and produces the enzymes necessary for normal digestive functions. There are 2 forms of pancreatitis – acute and chronic. Both forms have different symptoms and treatments.
Also, these pancreas problems can form with mild or severe pain. Mild pancreatitis can be treated without medical assistance, while severe pancreatitis can only be treated with the help of health care specialists.
Acute pancreatitis: symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, acute pancreatitis is a painful disorder of the inflamed pancreas gland. In 20% of all cases, it is caused by gallstones and in 30% by alcoholism.
Some symptoms of acute pancreatitis are:
- Acute epigastric pain spreading to the back which can be triggered by the consumption of alcohol or a fatty meal;
- Abdominal distention;
- High heart rate;
- High temperature.
Acute pancreatitis can be categorized as a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If not treated quickly, acute pancreatitis may lead to internal bleeding, edema, and failure of the other organs.
Chronic pancreatitis: symptoms
If a person suffers for a long time from severe hormone imbalances, nutritional imbalances, enzyme deficiency, and chronic pancreas pain, these conditions can be signs of pancreatitis in its chronic form. Chronic pancreatitis may seem less dangerous than the acute form but, in the long run, it can lead to chronic pancreas inflammation, fibrosis, and the complete dysfunction of pancreatic tissues.
Some symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:
- Recurrent epigastric pain spreading to the back;
- Rapid weight loss;
Major causes of pancreatitis
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, the inflammation of the pancreas gland is the main cause of pancreatitis. The inflammation, in its turn, may be triggered by such factors:
- The prolonged use of certain drugs;
- A recent abdominal surgery;
- Excessive drinking;
- A bacterial infection;
- Abdominal injuries;
- Cystic fibrosis;
- High concentrations of calcium or parathyroid hormone in the blood;
- Elevated triglyceride levels.
Keep in mind that pancreatic cancer can also be one of the pancreatitis causes, that is why it is important that you visit a doctor if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Treatment for pancreatitis: medical guidelines
Acute pancreatitis treatment can be done only by health care specialists and may include a surgery. After the surgery, a patient may require hospital care, painkillers, and healthy diet to help them heal. Chronic pancreatitis can be controlled by means of certain medications, a special diet, regular exercises and some lifestyle changes. For both forms of pancreatitis, health care specialists will prescribe medications and lifestyle changes to help you recover.
Healthy diet for pancreatitis patients
A healthy pancreatitis diet can be crucial, particularly during the first weeks after a surgery. It is important to follow the directions given by your health care team in order to care for your body. If you are healing from pancreatitis, consider adding the following foods to your daily diet:
- Yogurt with live bacteria may provide the normal balance in the digestive system;
- Spinach can boost immunity;
- Tomato soups can be beneficial because of antioxidant properties;
- Blueberries can be helpful in destroying the free radicals stimulating inflammation;
- Red grapes with resveratrol may decrease the irritation of the pancreas gland;
- Tofu can substitute fatty meat as a healthier protein source;
- Rice, bread, soy, and oatmeal also may decrease the levels of fats in the bloodstream.
Health care specialists recommend following a pancreatitis diet that is low in fats. The recommended total intake of fat is 40 grams per day. It can be a good idea to consume foods in small portions throughout the day. A doctor may also suggest eating foods and taking supplements with Vitamins A, E, C, B12, magnesium, and selenium.
Consider excluding these potentially dangerous foods from your diet, which may result in the pancreas irritation:
- Any spicy foods.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of pancreatitis, visit a doctor as soon as possible. Both types of pancreatitis may lead to severe complications including reduced oxygen levels in the blood, diabetes, pancreas infections, kidney failure,low production of important digestive enzymes, and the formation of cysts. Chronic pancreatitis can also be linked to the deadly symptoms of pancreatic cancer.