Pancreatitis is a relatively rare disease, representing an inflammation of the pancreas, whereby its enzymes are activated and damaging it. This can lead to bleeding, cyst formation (cavities), dying (auto-grinding) of the gland and so on. The enzymes and toxins enter the bloodstream and severely damage other organs – heart, lungs and kidneys. The pancreatitis symptoms are usually characterized by sudden pain, which occur in upper abdominal.
The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach near the duodenum (the small intestine). The pancreas consists of a body, head and tail and is functionally divided into an exocrine and endocrine part. Exocrine pancreas secretes enzymes that take part in the process of digestion and break down proteins, fats, etc. The endocrine pancreas secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon. They are important for maintaining blood sugar levels. The head of the pancreas is located in the upper right and the tail in the upper left of the abdomen respectively.
There are two forms of pancreatitis. The acute form occurs suddenly and in a number of cases there is a severe, life-threatening course. In the chronic form, there is a strong pain syndrome, combined with a disorder in the functioning of the pancreas that affects the digestive process and leads to weight loss. Chronic pancreatitis is usually the result of long-standing alcohol abuse. It can occur after acute abuse, especially if the inflammatory process is affected by the pancreatic duct system by which its juices are pushed into the duodenum.
Acute Pancreatitis symptoms
For acute pancreatitis symptoms are characteristic with sudden abnormal upper abdominal pain occurred. In general, pain may vary in strength, occur in the left or right subcutaneous tissue, and may be transmitted to the heart or more often to the back. It usually occurs after a meal and is relieved in a lateral position at bent knees. Also patients complain from nausea and possible vomiting, fever and increased heart rhythm (pulse). In about 20% of cases, the course is particularly severe and some of the complications, including damage to other organs, develop.
Chronic pancreatitis symptoms
The main chronic pancreatitis symptoms are characterized by weight and bloating after feeding. The complaints described are exacerbated by alcohol consumption and fatty foods. Also the patients complain from nausea, possible vomiting, weight loss with preserved appetite. The weight loss is due to the reduced amount of digestive enzymes that are released from the injured pancreas, where the body is unable to digest the food accepted. In some cases, diabetes mellitus develops as a result of the release of smaller amounts of insulin from the injured pancreas.