What is Pancreas ?


The pancreas is a glandular organ that is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach and below the ribcage. It is part of the digestive system and produces important enzymes and hormones that help break down foods. It has an endocrine function because it releases juices directly into the bloodstream, and it has an exocrine function because it releases juices into ducts.

Enzymes, or digestive juices, produced by the pancreas are secreted into the small intestine to further break down food after it has left the stomach. The gland also produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the bloodstream in order to regulate the body's glucose or sugar level.


What is Chronic Pancreatitis ?


Chronic Pancreatitis (CP) is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas with irreversible morphologic changes. It is characterized by moderate to severe pain in the upper abdomen radiating to middle of the back associated with nausea, vomiting, weakness and weight loss. Such symptoms might last from hours to two days and eventually could be continuous as the condition get worse. Inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve it get worse over time and leads to permanent damage. It occurs when digestive enzymes attack the pancreas and nearby tissues, causing episodes of pain. It often develops in people who are between the ages of 30 and 40 .The symptoms may mimic Pancreatic Cancer as well.

CP is a global disease and studies reveal that the incidences are increasing worldwide. CP occurs more often in men than in women and the condition often develops in people aged 30-40. However there are cases where the onset of CP may occur at very young age.

The chronic form of pancreatitis can be triggered by one acute attack that damages the pancreatic duct. The damaged duct causes the pancreas to become inflamed. Scar tissue develops and the pancreas is slowly destroyed.



Chronic Pancreatitis


The pancreas is a gland organ that is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach and below the ribcage. It is part of the digestive system and produces important enzymes and hormones that help break down foods. It has an endocrine function because it releases juices directly into the bloodstream, and it has an exocrine function because it releases juices into ducts.

Enzymes, or digestive juices, produced by the pancreas are secreted into the small intestine to further break down food after it has left the stomach. The gland also produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the bloodstream in order to regulate the body's glucose or sugar level.




Causes of Chronic Pancreatitis


There are many theories towards the cause of CP. The use of Alcohol is attributed as the main causing factor. Besides, genetic, mutation, malnutrition factors, Oxidant stress and trace element deficiency are known to be factors that might also cause CP. Besides, there are 20% cases of idiopathic CP among all type of CP patients.

Episodes of abdominal pain and diarrhea lasting several days come and go over time and can progress to chronic pancreatitis. A diagnosis of hereditary pancreatitis is likely if the person has two or more family members with pancreatitis in more than one generation.




Symptoms Of Chronic Pancreatitis


* Pain - the patient may feel pain in the upper abdomen. The pain may sometimes be severe and can travel along the back. It is usually more intense after eating. Some pain relief may be gained by leaning forward or curling into a ball.
* Nausea and vomiting - more commonly experienced during episodes of pain.
* Constant pain - As the disease progresses the episodes of pain become more frequent and severe. Some patients eventually suffer constant abdominal pain.
* As chronic pancreatitis progresses, and the pancreas' ability to produce digestive juices deteriorates, the following symptoms will appear:
    - Smelly and greasy faeces (stools)
    - Bloating
    - Abdominal cramps
    - Flatulence




Diagnosis of Chronic Pancreatitis


The diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis is typically based on tests on pancreatic structure and function, as direct biopsy of the pancreas is considered excessively risky. Serum amylase and lipase may or may not be moderately elevated in cases of chronic pancreatitis. Chronic Pancreatitis can be diagnosed by a gastroenterologist by assessing clinical, pathological and radiological status of the patient. That includes :






Management of CP

Acute attacks of CP are managed by pain killers, IV fluids, Multivitamins, Minerals and complete rest. ERCP and surgery might be recommended if blockage is found. CP patients are also prescribed pancreatic enzymes with each meal to help in digestion


Complications Of CP

The disease may have an effect on the patient's psychological and emotional well being. Constant or recurring pain, which is often severe, may cause distress, anxiety, irritability, stress and depression. CP is a serious and relapsing / remitting disease that may lead to diabetes, cancer, disability and death