Acute Pancreatitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatments

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In our body, the pancreas produces the required fluids for digestion and it also produces insulin that regulates the sugar level in blood. In some cases, this can get inflammatory and it may last for a long duration causing damage to the pancreas. This condition is called acute pancreatitis and it can cause severe pain in the abdominal region. Excessive consumption of alcohol and gallstones are said to be the major causes of this condition and in some cases, having a family history of this condition can also lead to acute pancreatitis in some people. It is possible to treat this condition when it is mild with proper care and you need not worry too much if you are diagnosed with this condition. However, when it is in advanced stages, it can cause fatal results.

Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis:

–  In most cases, patients experience pain in the upper abdomen region. What begins as a small pain will continue to become constant and this is when you need to consult your doctor for a thorough diagnosis. Yet another unique way to identify the symptoms of this condition is that it usually does not create pain in the lower abdomen region.

–  When the pain starts spreading to other regions, it can give backache and it will increase when you begin to eat any food. This should be taken as a clear symptom of acute pancreatitis.

–  When this disease is caused by gallstones, it spreads at a quick pace. On the other hand, when this disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, it makes take some time before symptoms become visible.

–  Many people also experience symptoms of nausea and vomiting when they are suffering from this condition. It can also cause diarrhoea in some cases and even lead to reduced appetite in quick time.

–  You will also notice that the pulse rate increases a lot when you have this condition and this can remain in this condition for a long time.

–  Apart from that, you may also experience pain when you are moving your body at a rapid pace and even small things like breathing deeply or coughing can also increase the pain in many individuals.

–  When you notice symptoms like jaundice or fever that is accompanied by stomach pain in the upper abdomen region, you should immediately go for a proper medical checkup as this can be a clear symptom of acute pancreatitis.

–  The unique aspect about this pain is that it will usually not go away easily even when you take painkillers. It can be strong and the pain will also be persistent for many hours.

Causes of Acute Pancreatitis:

In most cases, excessive drinking or gallstones are the major causes of this condition. It can easily progress in a short interval of time when it is not treated at the right time. In other cases, some sort of bacterial or viral infections can also lead to this condition. Only in rare cases, there will be no cause for this condition.

– Infections : Certain types of bacterial infections that cause food poisoning can also lead to acute pancreatitis. You need to be careful about the water you use for your everyday activities as this can contain some harmful bacteria that will lead to this condition. In the same manner, this condition can also be caused by many viruses. Even hepatitis B is known to trigger this condition in many individuals.

– Gallstones : When the bile contains more cholesterol than required, it can lead to gallstones and this will often lead to acute pancreatitis. It affects the normal working of the pancreas and reduces its ability to release enzymes required for the proper functioning of the intestine. When you are suffering from acute pancreatitis due to this condition, you need to get the gallbladder removed while getting treatment.

– Alcohol abuse : This is the major cause of acute pancreatitis in many patients. If you drink regularly for many years, you are under risk of developing this condition. This can affect the digestive enzymes in the stomach and lead to this condition in the long run. In this situation, you may not be able to notice too many symptoms in the early stages and this will only trigger in the advanced stages.

Diagnosis of Acute Pancreatitis:

– Blood test : In the first stage of diagnosis, the blood test is done to determine the levels of amylase and lipase in the body. When they are present in abnormal levels, it indicates acute pancreatitis condition.

– Pancreatic test : In our body, the pancreas is responsible for making the digestive enzymes that will help with the processing of food. When they are produced in the optimum levels, the body will function normally. However, when their production is affected, it indicates symptoms of this condition and doctors will do further tests to confirm acute pancreatitis.

– Imaging test : this is also needed along with other tests to determine acute pancreatitis in individuals. You may be referred to an ultrasound test or a CT scan along with the MRI scan. This will provide the inner view of the pancreas in a detailed manner and doctors can get to see the damage done to this area by this condition.

– Biopsy : In advanced stages, doctors may even go for a biopsy to remove the sample tissue that is affected by this condition. When the tissues are tested in the laboratory, they will either rule out or confirm the disease.

In most cases, a combination of the above-mentioned methods will be used to diagnose the symptoms. When you clearly describe the symptoms along with your past medical history, your doctors will get a fair idea about the condition and they will perform the relevant tests to diagnose the condition.

Prevention of Acute Pancreatitis:

As you can notice, most cases of acute pancreatitis are due to alcohol abuse and gallstones. In this regard, when you want to prevent this condition, you should focus on avoiding gallstones. This is easy as you can eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. This will help your body to digest the food easily and you will also be able to maintain a balanced weight in this manner. Reduce excess weight as this increases fat cells in the body and also leads to cholesterol buildup in the body. All these things can indirectly contribute to developing acute pancreatitis in the future. In the same manner, you should also cut down on your alcohol consumption as this can easily lead to acute pancreatitis in the long run. If you are having trouble quitting alcohol, you can consult your doctor and get suitable suggestions to handle the issue.

Treatment for Acute Pancreatitis:

– Treating mild acute pancreatitis : In this situation, attention is paid to reducing the symptoms that are usually painful. This includes providing rest to the gastrointestinal tract for a couple of days and IV fluids will be given to support the body. Along with this, any excess liquids can be removed using nasogastric tubes and this will provide immediate relief in many cases. Similarly, the dehydration is treated properly and fluids are given for few days. This will restore the body to normal condition in a few days and you need to get hospitalized during this phase.

– Treating severe acute pancreatitis : This condition can lead to complications as it can cause various infections that will damage other organs of the body. It can also lead to heart problems and even lead to fatal consequences when treatment is not provided at the right time. The dead tissues in the body can lead to infections and this condition is prevented by providing antibiotics. Along with this, IV fluids are given that will prevent dehydration. If any assistance is required for breathing, ventilation support will also be given at this stage.

– Surgery : Depending on the exact cause of this condition, surgery may be needed in some cases. It is usually required when gallstones are the reason behind this condition. This will also help them to remove the dead tissues in the affected area and this will prevent further infections in the body. You need to be very careful about your diet when you are treated for this condition as having a poor diet will trigger further complications in the future. In the same manner, when the disease is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, patients may be referred to suitable therapies that will help them to manage this issue in future.

Complications of Acute Pancreatitis:

–  You need to consider this disease seriously as it can lead to fatal consequences when it is ignored in the early stages. The most common complication that can arise out of this disease is the damage to the pancreatic duct that will lead to other health complications.

–  The bile can get obstructed in this manner and this will lead to various complications. Similarly, there can be leakage from the pancreatic duct when it is not treated effectively in early stages.

–  In extreme conditions, it can even cause haemorrhage or lead to other infections in the body.

–  This can put a lot of pressure on the kidney and it can even lead to kidney failure in advanced stages.

–  Even the heart and lungs can get affected due to this condition as it can cause infection inside the body. For this reason, you should never neglect these symptoms and always get treatment at the earliest. Remember that once symptoms appear in advanced stages, it can even lead to organ failure within a few days and emergency medical treatment is necessary to handle the situation.

Myths about Acute Pancreatitis:

– Alcohol does not cause acute pancreatitis : Many people believe that drinking in small quantity does not harm them. However, even this can lead to acute pancreatitis in the future. Apart from that, people also believe that some alcoholic drinks are safe and they do not cause this condition. The truth is that every alcoholic drink can lead to this disease in the long run. For this reason, you should always make it a point to stay away from drinking or limit its usage to very less quantity.

– Acute Pancreatitis is not fatal : This is completely false and you should take this condition seriously in the initial stages. Remember that in advanced stages of acute pancreatitis that is caused due to the gallbladder, the condition can progress at a very quick pace and you will only have few days to get treatment. Without proper treatment, people even die at this stage. In this regard, you should always consider the symptoms of this condition seriously and immediately consult a doctor when you have them.

– Acute Pancreatitis does not reoccur : There is no guarantee that the condition will not come back again after a few months or few years even after getting treatment. You need to understand that everything depends on your lifestyle and eating habits and if you do not take proper care of your health, you may get back this condition in future. Many alcoholics suffer from this condition repeatedly and this happens as they do not give up drinking after getting treated for this condition.


You need to treat this condition seriously as this can progress rapidly and even lead to fatal consequences in many cases. Remember that the symptoms are usually not visible in the early stages and by the time you notice symptoms, you may be in the advanced stages of this condition. This puts you under a lot of risks and you may not have sufficient time to get treatment in many cases when it is triggered due to gallstones. However, medication and surgery can treat the condition and you will be able to lead a normal life without any hassles. Even after getting treatment for this condition, you should never neglect your health as this can come back to haunt you if you are not careful about your diet. Make sure that you reduce your alcohol intake after this treatment and also pay attention to eating healthy foods. Reducing excess weight will also go a long way in reducing the chances of getting this condition in future.

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