What is a pancreas. It is a very important organ located in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach. It is the organ that produces insulin, which is a critical hormone. The shortage of insulin leads to diabetes. The pancreas also produces digestive enzymes which is then secreted into the small intestine to digest the food that we eat, so that our intestine can absorb the nutrients.
Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can either be acute or chronic.
The above 2 are the most common cause of pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis is simply an acute inflammation of your pancreas. This condition is characterised by a sudden severe upper abdominal pain. The pain may radiate to the back and may last for several days. The pain is relieved by leaning forward or sitting. Some patients may experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal distension, fever or jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Fortunately, most patients would recover by themselves. However, about 20% of acute pancreatitis can go down a severe course, and may lead to multi-organ failure and even death.
If the cause of the pancreatitis is due to gallstones, then the patient should consider having the gallbladder removed so as to prevent another attack of pancreaitits.
Chronic pancreatitis is characterised by persistent / recurrent and progressive upper abdominal pain and back pain, which is the hallmark of this condition. Unlike acute pancreatitis, the pain is not sudden in nature but is ongoing due to inflammation of the pancreas. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting.
Due to the poor appetite and malabsorption of nutrients, patients may suffer from malnutrition. With gradual destruction of the pancreas, patients may develop diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is suspected when patients complain of increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue and excessive weight loss.
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