Acute or Chronic Pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis is a condition involving the development of sudden onset
of inflammation of the pancreas. The inflammation is caused most commonly
by excessive alcohol usage or gallstones. Other causes include: Medications,
elevated calcium, or elevated lipid levels in the blood. In general, acute
pancreatitis is a mild disease that is usually associated with a rapid
recovery within a few days of onset of the illness. During an attack of
acute pancreatitis, the pancreatic duct often gets disrupted leading to
leakage of pancreatic juices. These pancreatic juices digest the pancreas
and surround tissues leading to necrotic tissue. This necrotic tissue
can become infected, leading to sever sepsis.
In about 15-20% of patients with acute pancreatitis, severe damage to the
pancreas can occur that may be life-threatening illness. Many of the complications
seen in severe acute pancreatitis are associated with the amount of pancreatic
necrosis, or the amount of dead pancreatic tissue present. Necrosis is
due to poor blood flow. Severe acute pancreatitis is a serious, life-threatening
disease that requires expert medical evaluation and treatment.
When acute pancreatitis continues to recur, it lead to a condition known
as chronic pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis is often associated with
widespread scarring and destruction of pancreatic tissue. This condition
mostly frequently develops from inflammatory damage of the pancreas over
many years, due to the effects of alcohol and smoking. However, in some
patients, this condition may develop without any apparent cause. Because
patients with chronic pancreatitis are at risk for developing significant
health issues such as diabetes and cancer, expert medical evaluation and
treatment are essential.
Risk Factors for Pancreatitis
Several factors are known to increase the risk for pancreatitis, including:
- Alcohol use
- Female gender, if due to gallstones
- Being of African American descent
- Elevated triglyceride levels
Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis
Symptoms vary according to the type of pancreatitis an individual is experiencing.
Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
- Acute Pancreatitis can result in symptoms such as: Severe abdominal pain,
swollen/distended abdomen, back pain, fever, nausea/vomiting and tachycardia.
- Severe Acute Pancreatitis (Pancreatic Necrosis) can result in symptoms
such as: Persistent fever, abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea/vomiting,
infection in the blood stream and respiratory failure.
- Chronic Pancreatitis can result in symptoms such as: Recurrent bouts of
abdominal or back pain, weight loss, diabetes, diarrhea and foul smelling
stools that float.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important
to seek proper evaluation and treatment from a healthcare expert experienced in the
treatment of gastrointestinal and pancreatic issues.
Expert Care You Can Trust!
The Hoag Digestive Disease Center, in alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, continues to
lead the way in complex hepatobiliary and pancreatic care, providing access
to a highly specialized surgical team that works collaboratively with
Hoag-affiliated gastroenterologists and medical oncology specialists to
provide academic-level care. Hoag’s committed to accurate
diagnosis, combined with
progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes
in the nation.
To schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion
consultation with a Hoag pancreatic care expert, visit Meet the Team,
or call us at: 949-764-5350.