Acute Pancreatitis- A medical emergency


Acute pancreatitis is a medical emergency in which your pancreatitis gets swelled and the condition could be severe or life-threatening if not paid proper attention to it. When the inflammation happens, you get excruciating pain in the upper abdomen and the pain also travels to the back. In most of the cases, you need hospitalization to control the pain and if you have continued episodes then the acute pancreatitis can become chronic one too.

It has been found that men are more susceptible to the condition as compared to women. The three most common causes of pancreatitis are heavy alcohol use, gallstones, and medications. Acute pancreatitis happens when the gallstone comes out of the gallbladder and settles in the bile ducts and blocks the opening of the bile duct and pancreatic duct. In some cases, genetic conditions are also one of the leading causes behind it.

Direct and Indirect causes of pancreatitis:

Some direct causes of pancreatitis includes sudden immune system attacks on the pancreas, or autoimmune pancreatitis. Pancreatic or gallbladder damage from surgery or injury. And, excessive fats called triglycerides in your blood, whereas, the indirect causes includes:

· alcohol abuse

· cystic fibrosis, a serious condition that affects your lungs, liver, and pancreas

· Kawasaki disease, a disease that occurs in children younger than 5-year-old

· viral infections like mumps and bacterial infections like mycoplasma

· Reye’s syndrome, a complication from certain viruses that can also affect the liver

· certain medications containing estrogen, corticosteroids, or certain antibiotics

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis

· Prolonged Abdominal pain

It has been discussed above that severe pain the upper abdomen is one of the major symptoms of it. Almost everyone, who is having acute pancreatitis, goes through the pain. But, in 50 percent patients, the pain even travels to the back. With gallstones, the pain usually starts suddenly and reaches its maximum intensity in minutes. If the person is alcoholic, then the pain develops over few days. The pain remains steady and severe, with a penetrating quality, and persists for days.

· Vomiting tendencies

Sometimes coughing and even deep breathing trigger the pain. In that condition, Sitting upright and leaning forward may provide some relief. Sometimes, people even feel nauseated to the extent that they have to vomit.

· Fluctuating body temperature and blood pressure

With acute pancreatitis, body temperature may be normal at first but will increase in a few hours to between (37.7°C and 38.3°C. Blood pressure tends to fall when a person with acute pancreatitis stands, causing faintness. As the disease progresses, people tend to be less and less aware of their surroundings—some are nearly unconscious. Occasionally, the whites of the eyes become yellowish. In certain people, the initial symptom may be shock or coma.

Treatment of acute pancreatitis

Your treatment process begins as soon as you get admitted in the hospital. Make sure you are getting enough fluids, usually intravenously. Your doctor may order medications to reduce pain and treat any possible infections. If these treatments don’t work, you may need surgery to remove damaged tissue, drain fluid, or correct blocked ducts. If gallstones caused the problem, you may need surgery to remove the gallbladder. If your doctor suggests some medication is causing your acute pancreatitis, stop using that medication right away. If a traumatic injury caused your pancreatitis, avoid the activity until you’re fully recovered from treatment.

If causing your acute pancreatitis, stop using that medication right away. If a traumatic injury caused your pancreatitis, avoid the activity until you’re fully recovered from treatment.

You may experience a lot of pain after acute pancreatitis, surgery, or other treatments. If prescribed pain medication, be sure to follow your doctor’s plan to reduce your discomfort once you get home. Avoid smoking completely, and drink a lot of fluids to make sure you don’t get dehydrated.

Lifestyle and diet modification

Acute pancreatitis is sometimes linked with type 2 diabetes, which affects your insulin production. Eating foods like lean protein, leafy vegetables, and whole grains can help your pancreas produce insulin more regularly and gently.

Stay hydrated at all times. Keep a water bottle or an electrolyte-infused drink like Gatorade. Help prevent acute pancreatitis by limiting the amount of alcohol you drink. If you’ve already had pancreatitis and haven’t made lifestyle changes, it’s possible to develop it again. Children, and teens under the age of 19, should not take aspirin unless their doctor prescribes it. Aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome, which is a known trigger for acute pancreatitis.

The writer is DR. ANUKALP PRAKASH, Consultant- Gastroenterology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon

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