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Pancreatitis: Inflammation Of the Pancreas

Pancreatitis: Inflammation Of the Pancreas
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pancreas inflammation

Pancreatitis refers to the inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ that is responsible for producing digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis is a rare condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated. It is found more often in men than in women and most frequently between the ages of 30 and 40.

What Causes Pancreatitis?

  • Gallstones
  • Alcoholism
  • Viruses
    • Coxsackie virus
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Hepatitis B
    • Herpes simplex virus
    • Mumps
    • Varicella-zoster virus
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • High levels of blood fat
  • Bacteria
    • Legionella
    • Leptospira
    • Mycoplasma
    • Salmonella
  • Fungi
    • Aspergillus
  • Parasites
    • Ascaris
    • Cryptosporidium
    • Toxoplasma

Types of Pancreatitis

Acute Pancreatitis

This type of pancreatitis comes on suddenly and can vary in severity from mild to life-threatening.

Chronic Pancreatitis

This type of pancreatitis is long-term and gradually develops over a period of time. It typically occurs after a bout of acute pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis Symptoms

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Pain that radiates to the back
  • Swollen, tender abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate


Diagnosing Pancreatitis

The majority of pancreatitis cases are diagnosed in emergency rooms because the condition tends to come on quickly. Diagnostic imaging including abdominal ultrasounds or CT scans can show an inflamed pancreas. Pancreatic function tests can assess how well the pancreas is producing digestive enzymes. Rarely, a biopsy of the pancreatic tissue may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating Pancreatitis

Cases of acute pancreatitis that are mild in severity can be treated with IV fluids during hospitalization. Severe cases of pancreatitis require the patient to stay in the intensive care unit and be closely monitored, as pancreatitis can damage the heart, lungs, and kidneys. In very rare cases, the pancreas may have to be removed if it has been damaged by the inflammation.

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