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Can You Live A Normal Life With Chronic Pancreatitis

Date : 18-Nov-2019

Chronic pancreatitis is an irreversible long term condition characterized by the progressive inflammation of the pancreas that leads to the permanent breakdown of its structure and function. The pancreas is the organ located behind the stomach whose primary purpose is to secrete enzymes that help in the digestion process. It is also responsible for insulin regulation in the body. People with pancreatitis will no longer be able to digest the food and regulate their blood sugar as calcium stones and cysts may develop in the pancreas that blocks the digestive enzymes to the stomach.

Chronic Pancreatitis
The disease is predominant in men between the ages of 30-40. People with chronic pancreatitis will experience nutrient malabsorption, lose weight, develop diabetes with nutritional deficiencies. They experience frequent upper abdominal pain that often radiates to the back and is accompanied by vomiting and loss of appetite.

Over Consumption of Alcohol is the critical factor that leads to the development of the disease along with other factors such as autoimmune disease, genetics, hereditary, blockage of the digestive duct, and very high triglyceride levels.

The disease is diagnosed by the doctor based on the symptoms, blood tests, alcohol history, and imaging techniques like ERCP or MRCP.

Long Term Approach to Disease Management
Early identification and appropriate treatment are the keys to the long term management of the disease that help individuals with chronic pancreatitis lead a normal life. As the disease can't be cured, the treatments help relieve pain, help improve food absorption and manage diabetes. The different types of treatments and diet modifications include

1.MEDICATIONS – The prescribed medications include pain relievers, artificial digestive enzymes to help digest food normally, and insulin to treat diabetes. Sometimes steroids are also prescribed if the individual has autoimmune pancreatitis.

2.ENDOSCOPY – It is a procedure performed mainly to treat the blockage that is caused by pancreatic stones or cysts and relieve the pain.

3.LIFESTYLE & DIET CHANGES – Patients are restricted from alcohol consumption and tobacco use. A proper diet plan will be provided to them, which consist of food sources that have high nutritional content and protein levels. Patients need to avoid food that has high fat or sugar content. They are encouraged to consume six small meals in a day rather than three.

4.SURGERY - It is suggested as the last option only when the conservative treatments fail to provide the expected outcome. Different types of surgeries such as pancreatic resection, total pancreatectomy, and autologous pancreatic islet cell transplantation are performed based on the severity of the condition.

The condition demands continuous long term monitoring and patients follow up by the experienced doctor.
Blog reviewed by: Dr. Patta Radhakrishna
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Dr.Patta Radhakrishna is a renowned Surgical Gastroenterologist and a Laparoscopic Surgeon in Chennai.

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