You may not know what chronic pancreatitis is, but in a nutshell it is when the pancreas goes through a persistent inflammation that causes the organ to change its functions, and can even alter the normal shape and size of the pancreas. If you are someone who thinks that they are suffering from chronic pancreatitis, you might be experiencing chronic abdominal pain, severe nausea, oily stools, a large amount of weight loss, and even diabetes in some cases. Not all of these symptoms will appear in every patient, but you will probably find that your symptoms will change in intensity and pitch as the chronic pancreatitis gets worse.
While chronic pancreatitis can occur from something else, over three fourths of the cases that are reported are caused by alcoholism. By this it is meant that these people have taken in more alcohol than one hundred and fifty grams a day for at least ten years. So, if you are experiencing the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis and you have a history of drinking you will want to make sure that you discuss the possibility of this disease with your doctor so that you can work to catch and treat the problem before it gets out of hand. However, it’s also important to remember that about thirty percent of the cases of chronic pancreatitis that are reported each year are the result of other, natural (sometimes even inherited) problems that can occur within the body. In fact, children who have cystic fibrosis or those who are suffering from malnutrition can also get chronic pancreatitis. So, do not discount the possibility of being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis just because you are not a heavy drinker.
If you are concerned that you might be suffering from chronic pancreatitis then you will want to talk to your doctor so that you can find out your diagnosis as soon as possible and begin treatment. One way that doctors will determine whether or not you have chronic pancreatitis is that they will test the structure of the pancreas as well as its function because they cannot do a straight biopsy of the pancreas because it will put the patient at very high risk for problems. Instead they will find out if the pancreas has changed by checking the serum amylase and the lipase to see if these numbers are within the normal range, and they can be looked at in order to get a baseline reading for the pancreas’ processes.
If you are diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis then you will find that there are different types of treatment for this disease, including medications, and even potentially surgery if it is deemed necessary. The relief of the pain is one of the first things that doctors work to treat because it is a part of the problem. The other thing that doctors will do to treat chronic pancreatitis is the problem of malabsorption of nutrients like fats and proteins. You will also have to deal with the problem of diabetes because those who are suffering from chronic pancreatitis will often develop type 1 diabetes as part of the disease.
It is important that if you suspect you have chronic pancreatitis you talk to your doctor as an early diagnosis can help you to make sure that your treatment will help to prevent any further complications or problems that can arise from the chronic pancreatitis. And, if you can take some pancreatic enzymes as a way to replace some of the functions of the pancreas you might be able to get the malabsorption and oily stool under control, but you may still have some problems with pain.
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