The pancreas is an organ that produces hormones, such as insulin, as well as digestive juices. It is located in the back middle part of the abdomen. When something causes the pancreas to become inflamed it is usually referred to as having acute pancreatic. Acute pancreatic can be cause by different things but is normally curable with proper medical care.
Acute pancreatitis can be caused by several different things. Alcohol consumption over a prolonged amount of time, medications, infections, surgery, injury or gallstones can all cause the pancreas to become inflamed. Nearly 70% of all pancreatitis occurrences are due to either consuming too much alcohol or from gallstones. Of course there are the other 30% of sufferers that have an underlying cause of pancreatitis that may be more serious.
Since gallstones cause a good portion of the cases of pancreatitis it is a good idea to discuss what causes this to happen and what exactly gallstones are. Gall stones are hard substances similar to rocks that form inside the gallbladder. The gallbladder is there to store bile until it is needed for digestion of foods. The bile that the gallbladder stores consists of bile salts, proteins and water, cholesterol and bilirubin. When the bile contains too much salt, bilirubin and cholesterol , they can form into a gallstone. These pebble-like formations can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Your gallbladder may produce one of these stones or up to a hundred at a time.
By now you are probably wondering how a gallstone from the gallbladder could have anything to do with your pancreas. Well since the pancreas and the gallbladder share the same drainage duct, often times a small sized gallstone can become lodge inside the duct. When this happens it causes all the digestive juices, enzymes and hormones inside the pancreas to become trapped inside the pancreas. The flow of these juices becomes irregular and this causes acute pancreatitis.
Although some people get lucky and do not suffer from gallstones, some people get them quite often. Sometimes a gallstone can pass without causing much discomfort and other times even the smallest gallstone can cause significant pain. When a person has gallstone pancreatitis the pain may come on quite suddenly and become quite severe. Pain is usually felt in the upper left portion of the abdomen and/or in the back. Sharp pains or pains that feel like squeezing can be felt and nausea and vomiting are often a result.
Treating gallstone pancreatic can depend on the severity of the condition. Often the pain is so intense that a person requires medical attention right away. Once gallstone pancreatitis is diagnosed restriction from all liquids and solids is usually the first step. If the gallstone is large and cannot be passed on its own then surgery may need to be performed immediately to prevent further damage from being done to the pancreas. If the gallstone is small in size, sometimes restricting fluids and food and administering them intravenously can give the stone time to pass. Medications for pain and nausea may be necessary to keep the patient as comfortable as possible until the gallstone has dislodged.
Preventing gallstones from developing in the first place is the best way to avoid getting gallstone pancreatitis. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly is very beneficial in preventing problems with the gallbladder and pancreas. Also making sure you are consuming enough dietary fiber can really lessen your risk for getting gallstones. Surprisingly studies have shown that people who drink a significant amount of coffee daily have a lower chance of developing gallstones.
If you think you may suffer from gallstones or pancreatitis you should see your doctor as soon as possible to determine a course of treatment that will benefit you.
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