Chronic pancreatitis is a rare disease that develops over many years. It can develop after frequent acute pancreatitis attacks. During the period between seizures, the patient does not recover completely and the inflamed pancreas produces less and less digestive juices and hormones. In most cases of chronic pancreatitis there is no previous acute seizure; however, the disease is usually associated with excessive alcohol consumption and/or gallstones.
The main symptom is pain (although 10% of patients do not feel any pain). The pains are dull, like cramps, penetrating, get worse with food or alcohol, and they are alleviated if the patient sits. As the disease progress, the pain lasts longer and occurs more and more frequently. Some patients suffers from poor digestion between seizures. Additional symptoms (which do not occur in all cases) are mild jaundice and weight loss. In addition, the pancreas may cease producing insulin (hormone), which may lead to diabetes.
What to do?
Symptoms such as jaundice, severe abdominal pain or inexplicable weight loss are serious and if you suffer from these symptoms you should go to a doctor immediately. If a doctor suspects you have pancreas disorder, he will send you to variety of tests.
Self-help: immediately and completely stop with any alcohol consumption and eat food with low fat content, recommended by your doctor.
Professional help: if you feel particularly severe pain, your doctor will prescribe an analgesic. In addition, you will need to take the tablets with the enzymes with each meal; enzymes are needed for food digestion, but your damaged pancreas can no longer produce them. In some cases, when the abdominal pain is almost unbearable, an operating procedure is recommended – removal of the damaged pancreas tissue. If you strictly hold the recommended measures – i.e. if you do not drink alcoholic beverages at all, eat food with low fat content, take tablets with enzymes and go to check-ups according to your doctor’s advice – the prospects for improvement are good.