What is Pancreatitis ?
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, a five- to six-inch-long leaf-shaped gland situated behind the lower part of the stomach and extending downward toward the spleen and left kidney. It has two primary functions: to produce digestive enzymes that break down proteins, fat, and carbohydrates in the small intestine; and to release the hormones glucogen and insulin, which regulate blood sugar levels. The pancreas can become inflamed if digestive enzymes build up inside it and begin to attack it.
The disease can be either acute or chronic. In 80 percent of cases, acute pancreatitis is due to excessive alcohol use or gallstones. This condition can also come about as a result of infection (such as with hepatitis A or D or Epstein-Barr virus) or the use of certain drugs (such as divalproex [Depakote], used to prevent seizures and treat bipolar mood disorder; azathioprine [Imuran], sometimes used for rheumatoid arthritis; and 6-MP, a cancer chemotherapy agent). In very rare cases, acute pancreatitis may be caused by injury to the abdomen.
Types of pancreatitis
There are two main types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic
1. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and lasts for a short period of time. It usually resolves. Some people with acute pancreatitis may have more than one attack and recover completely after each. Acute pancreatitis usually causes severe pain that comes on suddenly, starting in or around the area of the navel and radiating to the back. The pain is typically exacerbated by movement and relieved by sitting, The symptoms of acute pancreatitis usually begins with severe pain in the upper abdomen. The pain may be nearly constant for hours or even days and is likely to become worse when you drink alcohol or eat. Other signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis includes nausea and vomiting, fever, excessive gas, upper abdominal pain described as burning or stabbing, fever, sweating, hypertension, muscle aches, and abnormal, fatty stools.
2. Chronic pancreatitis occurs over a long period of time and does not resolve itself. Chronic pancreatitis results in a slow destruction of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis is a condition in which the inflammation has caused irreversible changes in the microscopic structure of the gallbladder tissue. Repeated episodes of gallbladder infection and gallstones are often involved. The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may be hard to distinguish from those of acute pancreatitis, except that the pain tends to be chronic rather than coming on suddenly. In addition, chronic pancreatitis may be punctuated with periodic episodes of acute disease. In the majority of cases, chronic pancreatitis is caused by longterm alcohol use. Because the pancreas is the gland that produces the hormones insulin and glucagon, which regulate blood sugar levels, pancreatitis-especially if chronic often leads to glucose intolerance (diabetes) and digestive difficulties.
What causes pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis is usually caused by drinking too much alcohol or by gallstones . A gallstone can block the pancreatic duct, trapping digestive enzymes in the pancreas and causing pancreatitis.
Chronic pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes attack and destroy the pancreas and nearby tissues. Chronic pancratitis is usually caused by many years of alcohol abuse, excess iron in the blood, and other unknown factors. However, it may also be triggered by only one acute attack, especially if the pancreatic ducts are damaged.
Home Remedies: Treatment of acute and chronic pancreatitis
1. Olive Leaf
Olive leaf extract acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and is helpful if you have an infection.
Dandelion root stimulates bile production and improves the health of the pancreas.
3. Burdock Root
Burdock root, milk thistle, and red clover aid in cleansing the bloodstream and liver, reducing the burden on the pancreas.
4. Take a diet that which has high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
In some cases, surgery is needed to relieve pain. The surgery may involve draining an enlarged pancreatic duct or removing part of the pancreas.
Prevention tips for pancreatitis
- Eat a diet low in fat and sugar. This is very important for recovery. High levels of sugar and fats in the blood are common in pancreatitis.
- If antibiotics are prescribed, be sure to consume kefir, and yogurt, and add some form of acidophilus to the program.
- If you smoke, stop, and try to avoid secondhand smoke. Recent studies point to a distinct link between chronic pancreatitis and cigarette smoking.
- Consume no alcohol in any form.
- A cute pancreatitis becomes chronic when pancreatic tissue is destroyed and scarring develops.