is inflammation of the pancreas, a glandular organ
that produces several enzymes to aid in the digestion
of food, as well as the hormone insulin, which controls
the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The pancreas
is located in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach;
a duct connects it to the duodenum, the first part
of the small intestine. Pancreatic enzymes and bile
produced by the liver enter the duodenum at the same
may be either acute (sudden and severe) or chronic.
Both acute and chronic pancreatitis can cause bleeding
and tissue death in or around the pancreas. In a single
episode of acute pancreatitis, the gland usually heals
without causing functional or structural changes,
but in the case of recurring pancreatitis, long-term
damage is common. In chronic pancreatitis, smoldering
attacks result in a slow deterioration of the structure
of the pancreas and loss of pancreatic function.
pancreatitis (which involves death of pancreatic tissue)
can lead to cyst-like pockets and abscesses. Because
of the location of the pancreas, inflammation spreads
easily. In severe cases, fluid containing toxins and
enzymes leaks from the pancreas through the lining
of the abdomen. This can damage blood vessels and
lead to internal bleeding, which may be life threatening.
signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include the following:
ongoing, sharp abdominal pain, often radiating to
are several possible causes of pancreatitis:
of the biliary tract. The biliary tract is the system
of organs and ducts (including the liver, gallbladder,
and bile ducts) that creates, transports, stores,
and releases bile into the duodenum for digestion.
The formation of stones in the biliary tract can
block the main duct of the pancreas as it enters
alcohol use over a long period of time, which can
raise protein levels in pancreatic juices. Over
time, the protein can form plugs, blocking small
pancreatic ducts. Alcohol also allows enzymes to
pass more easily through duct walls and damage the
pancreas. Biliary tract stones and alcoholism are
the most common causes of pancreatitis.
drugs azathioprine, sulfonamides, corticosteroids,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and tetracyclines
with mumps, hepatitis virus, rubella, Epstein-Barr
virus (the cause of mononucleosis), and cytomegalovirus
in the structure of the pancreas or the pancreatic
or bile ducts, including pancreatic cancer
levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood
to the abdomen, heart, or lungs that temporarily
cuts off blood supply to the pancreas, damaging
resulting in compression of the pancreas against
Most At Risk?
conditions or characteristics increase the risk for
alcohol use and chronic alcoholism
history of high triglycerides
(most common between ages 35 and 64)
are at higher risk than Caucasians and Native Americans.
to Expect at Your Provider's Office
healthcare provider will examine you for signs and
symptoms of pancreatitis. He or she may also perform
blood tests, take X rays, and use ultrasound, computed
tomography (CT) scans, and other procedures to determine
the severity of your condition and decide which treatment
options are most appropriate.
edematous pancreatitis (marked by buildup of fluid
in the pancreas) can usually be treated with intravenous
fluids and by fasting, along with careful monitoring
by the healthcare provider. Nasogastric suction (suction
of the stomach using a tube inserted through the nose)
reduces stomach secretions and prevents stomach contents
from reaching the small intestine. This procedure
is sometimes used although there is no proven benefit.
Parenteral nutrition (nutrients given through the
veins, muscles, or skin rather than orally) may be
needed if the patient does not adequately recover
within several days. For those with low blood pressure,
low urine output, low levels of oxygen in the blood,
or increased levels of red blood cells, more aggressive
therapy may be required. For pancreatitis from high
triglycerides, treatment includes weight loss, exercise,
fat-restricted diet, control of blood sugar for diabetics,
and avoidance of alcohol and medications that can
raise triglycerides, such as thiazide diuretics and
such as meperidine may be prescribed. Antibiotics,
such as ampicillin, ceftriaxone, and imipenem, may
be given to treat or prevent infection in some cases.
Replacement: Oral intake of exocrine pancreatic
enzymes are of key importance in the treatment of
mal-digestion in chronic pancreatitis with pancreatic
insufficiency. It has been studied for the therapeutic
effectiveness of a conventional and an acid-protected
enzyme preparation, and an acid-stable fungal enzyme
preparation in the treatment of severe pancreatogenic
steatorrhea. The results showed that a supplemental
enzyme preparation is best for patients with chronic
pancreatitis and those who underwent Whipple's procedure
(a surgical procedure performed on pancreatic cancer
patients), while patients with an intact upper gastrointestinal
tract fare best with an acid-protected porcine pancreatic
is secreted from the pancreas and provides potent
concentrations of the digestive enzymes protease,
amylase, and lipase. Pancreatin is sold as a drug
to treat those with pancreatic insufficiency. Pancreatin
efficacy was demonstrated in a study conducted on
patients who took pancreatin to maintain postoperative
digestion. The effects of supplementation were determined
by measuring the postoperative intestinal absorption
and nutritional status in a randomized trial with
patients receiving pancreatin or placebo. Before the
trial, patients showed abnormal digestion of fats
and protein, and total energy was low at baseline
and 3 weeks after surgery. Pancreatin supplementation
improved fat and protein absorption as well as improving
nitrogen balance. However, those patients taking a
placebo had worsened absorption after the surgery.
The data suggest that long-term postoperative pancreatic
enzyme supplementation is both efficacious and necessary
in surgery patients who suffered from pancreatitis.
are many forms of Pancreatic Enzymes on the Market.
Consult your Doctor for which one is best for you
and which dosage you should be taking before meals.
For more information on types and dosages of Pancreatic
and Other Procedures
types of surgical procedures may be necessary, depending
on the cause of the pancreatitis. With infected pancreatic
necrosis (tissue death), surgery is virtually always
required to remove damaged and infected tissue. Surgery
may also be required to drain an abscess. For hemorrhagic
(bleeding) pancreatitis, surgery will stop the bleeding
and help restore pancreatic function. For chronic
pancreatitis with pain that won't respond to treatment,
a section of the pancreas may need to be removed.
If the pancreatitis is a result of gallstones, a procedure
called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
(ERCP) may be necessary. In ERCP, a specialist inserts
a tube-like instrument through the mouth and down
into the duodenum where he or she can gain access
to the pancreatic and biliary ducts.
and Alternative Therapies
number of studies have explored the role of oxidative
stress in pancreatitis. Oxidative stress results from
the production of free radicals, which are by-products
of metabolism that are harmful to cells in the body.
Several ways to neutralize these deleterious effects
have evolved over time. Antioxidants, for example,
help rid the body of free radicals. Insufficient antioxidant
levels in the blood (including reduced amounts of
vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids),
though, may lead to chronic pancreatitis due to the
destructive effects of increased free radical activity.
Antioxidant deficiency and the risk of developing
pancreatitis may be particularly relevant in areas
of the world with low soil concentrations or low dietary
intake of antioxidants. In addition, the cooking and
processing of foods may destroy antioxidants. Alcohol-induced
pancreatitis is linked to low levels of antioxidants
as well. There is also some evidence that antioxidant
supplements may eliminate or minimize oxidative stress
and help alleviate pain from chronic pancreatitis.
more information on Alternative medicine, go here:
explained, low levels of antioxidants in the blood
may make an individual more prone to develop pancreatitis;
at the same time, someone who already has pancreatitis
is more likely to develop deficiencies of the following
– particularly in the case of chronic alcoholism
studies do suggest that taking these nutrients mentioned,
particularly the latter five each of which has antioxidant
properties, can reduce the pain from which people
with pancreatitis suffer and recover more readily
from the condition. Other potentially valuable supplements
to take include:
B12; levels may be low with pancreatitis; works
best in this case if given by injection.
extracts of soybeans known as polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholines
(PCs) work as antioxidants and have demonstrated
prevention of damage to the pancreas in animal studies.
officinalis (Indian gooseberry) is a traditional
Ayurvedic medicinal plant used to treat pancreatic
disorders. It is the richest natural source of vitamin
C. Animal studies further suggest that this herb
can be used to prevent development of pancreatitis.
case reports suggest that traditional Chinese medicines
are effective for the prevention and treatment of
pancreatitis including the following which are also
used commonly as both Western and Ayurvedic treatments
of gastrointestinal disorders:
root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
root (Zingiber officinale)
ginseng (Panax ginseng),
Chinese bark (Cinnamomum verum)
studies further suggest the value of using these herbs
in combination along with the following herbs:
(Bupleri falcatum L)
tuber (Pinelliae ternata)
skullcap (Scutellariae baicalensis)
determine the regimen for each individual, it is best
to see a skilled herbalist or licensed and certified
practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, particularly
because these herbs often work best in combination.
or Massage Therapy
is based on a system of points on the hands and feet
thought to correspond or "reflex" to other areas of
the body. The technique is thus specific to particular
body parts (most often the feet), but is intended
to assist the entire body
Therapy has been described as "the healing touch."
Often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy,
massage therapy refers to the application of various
techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues
of the body. It consists of a group of manual techniques
that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding,
and/or causing movement of or to the body, using primarily
the hands. The massage therapist can also use other
areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or
feet. These techniques affect the musculoskeletal,
circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems
of the body.
goal of massage therapy is fairly straightforward:
to positively affect the health and well being of
the client. Numerous physical and mental health benefits
have been attributed to massage, including reducing
stress and aiding in relaxation; reducing the heart
rate; lowering blood pressure; increasing blood circulation
and lymph flow; relaxing the muscles; reducing chronic
pain and improving joint range of motion. Specifically,
people have found that therapeutic massage can help
manage a variety of conditions:
more information on Refexology, Massage Therapy and
other forms of Alternative Healing Click
value of acupuncture for treating pancreatitis is
controversial. There are case reports stating that
acupuncture has helped relieve pain from pancreatitis
and pancreatic cancer. But a review of several studies
finds that results of acupuncture and electroacupuncture
(small electrical currents applied through acupuncture
needles) for pancreatitis are mixed with some concluding
that there is no benefit with the addition of either
of these modalities for people with pancreatitis.
complications of pancreatitis include infection of
the pancreas; cyst-like pockets that can become infected,
bleed, or rupture; the failure of several organs (heart,
kidney, lungs) and shock due to toxins in the blood;
and diabetes. In mild edematous pancreatitis, with
inflammation in the pancreas alone, the prognosis
is excellent. Fewer than 5% of people with this form
die. With severe tissue death and bleeding, or where
inflammation is not confined to the pancreas, the
death rate is 10 to 50% or higher, due to infection
and other serious complications. In chronic pancreatitis,
recurring attacks tend to become more severe.
with chronic pancreatitis should eat a low-fat diet,
abstain from alcohol, and avoid abdominal trauma to
prevent acute attacks and further damage. Those with
high triglyceride levels should lose weight, exercise,
and avoid medications, such as thiazide diuretics
and beta-blockers, that increase triglyceride levels.
Given the recent reports suggesting that oxidative
stress may contribute to the development of pancreatitis
and that antioxidant supplementation may be of some
benefit, healthcare providers may begin recommending
antioxidant nutrients to their patients with pancreatitis.
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