Chronic Pancreatitis occurs when inflammation causes permanent damage to the pancreas. It is known to be a leading risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Therefore, those who are diagnosed with the condition will need to manage it closely.
Here, we will look at what chronic pancreatitis is, what causes it, and whether it is possible to prevent the condition.
What is chronic pancreatitis?
Chronic Pancreatitis is diagnosed when the pancreas is permanently inflamed. This is different to acute pancreatitis which is only short-term. It causes severe abdominal pain that may come and go but can last for hours or days. Situated behind the stomach, the pancreas is a small organ that creates enzymes needed for digestion. It is also responsible for helping to control the levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
Over time, chronic pancreatitis can cause permanent damage and scarring. It can also lead to the development of cysts and stones within the pancreas, blocking the tube or duct responsible for transporting the enzymes to the stomach. This can be a serious complication, requiring immediate treatment.
What causes it?
Chronic pancreatitis is known to have many causes. However, the majority are caused by alcohol abuse. Other potential causes include:
- A narrowed pancreatic duct
- Autoimmune disease
If the pancreatic duct is narrow, it will be difficult for the juices and enzymes to pass through into the digestive system. This in turn can lead to inflammation, and over time chronic pancreatitis.
Hypertriglyceridemia relates to too much triglyceride fats in the blood. This, alongside excess levels of calcium, can cause inflammation. Sometimes, it may be down to an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks its own cells.
Another potential cause of chronic pancreatitis is gallstones. If they aren’t treated, they can block the pancreatic duct. This can be potentially serious, and treatment will be required as soon as possible.
These are just some of the main causes. The question is, can you prevent it?
Can you prevent chronic pancreatitis?
Not all cases can be prevented. However, there are ways to lower the risks. As most cases are caused by drinking excess amounts of alcohol, monitoring your consumption should be the first step.
Eating a healthy diet and going for regular checkups with the doctor can also help to prevent it. Keep the amount of fatty foods you eat to a minimum and keep an eye on your health for any signs of an underlying problem.
If you are diagnosed with gallstones, you should also seek treatment when you can. This involves removing the gallbladder, which the body doesn’t need for survival.
To find out more about treating gallstones, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.