Pancreatitis has become increasingly common in the United States, and it’s no fun. Thankfully, appropriate treatment can go a long way toward reducing your pain and flu-like symptoms — whether they come on suddenly or over time.
Importantly, effective pancreatitis treatment can also help protect you from complications, such as organ damage, blocked bile ducts, and even death.
Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and the team at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, can work with you to diagnose, treat, or prevent pancreatitis flare-ups.
Here’s a deeper look at this condition, including effective treatments to bring you relief.
Your pancreas sits in your upper abdomen, just behind your stomach. The flat, long organ plays an important role in digestion by releasing enzymes and hormones. Your pancreas also helps your body process glucose, or blood sugar.
When you have pancreatitis, your pancreas is inflamed. This issue can happen suddenly, as acute pancreatitis, or gradually, as chronic pancreatitis. Acute symptoms last for a number of days, but chronic symptoms may linger or flare up periodically for years.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Upper abdominal pain
- Rapid pulse
- Tenderness to the touch in your abdomen
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms may involve:
- Abdominal pain that feels worse after eating
- Smelly, oily stools
- Unintentional weight loss
- Upper abdominal pain
Most anyone can develop pancreatitis, but your chances are higher if you drink alcohol in excess, smoke, or have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis. Obesity, abdominal surgery, gallstones, and pancreatic cancer also increase your risk.
Effective pancreatitis treatments
If an underlying condition is fueling your pancreatitis symptoms, treatment for that condition should go far. Pancreatitis brought on by gallstones, for example, may diminish with gallbladder or gallstone removal.
If you’re dealing with acute pancreatitis, Dr. Reddy and her team recommend a treatment plan to reduce inflammation quickly. That plan may involve letting your pancreas rest while you fast and receive IV fluids as well as abstaining from alcohol.
As your symptoms improve, you likely can begin eating bland foods and drinking clear liquids. Gradually, you shift to a nutritious, low-fat diet.
For chronic pancreatitis, you may benefit from enzyme supplements that support normal digestion. Taking pain medications, quitting smoking, and improving your exercise habits (outside of flare-ups) may also help ease your discomfort.
If conservative treatments fail to fully help, Dr. Reddy may recommend surgery to remove your pancreas. In some cases, an endoscopic procedure can remove diseased tissue or drain excess fluid from your pancreas.
To learn more about pancreatitis or to get the care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. or request your appointment online today.