Overview of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is a disease of the pancreas, an organ in the abdomen that is responsible for the production of enzymes necessary for digestion of food. This inflammatory disease can cause mild to severe damage to the pancreas, ultimately permanently affecting the digestive and other systems if left unchecked. Pancreatitis can occur as either acute, which is a severe, instantaneous inflammation, or chronic, where the disease develops over years. Depending on the nature of the Pancreatitis, the symptoms and causes can vary along with how they are treated.
Causes and Risk Factors of Pancreatitis
Since pancreas is responsible for production of digestive enzymes but they’re not used in the pancreas itself, the enzymes are kept in a dormant state until they reach their correct positions in the digestive tract. However, it is possible that these enzymes become activated in the pancreas itself, which is exactly what Pancreatitis is. This, in turn, starts damaging the organ itself as opposed to breaking down food. While Pancreatitis can occur at any stage due to a number of reasons, consuming alcohol in large quantities or for long periods of time increase the risk. Another very common contributor to Pancreatitis is gallstones. Smoking also increases the risk of contracting this disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis symptoms vary based on the type of disease that you have. Because acute Pancreatitis is more rapid and sudden, it can be differentiated based on the patient experiencing abdominal pain, especially in the upper regions, gases, nausea and occasional vomiting. Pain is, in fact, the most obvious factor, and it is different from other abdominal pains because it radiates from front to back and increases on touch. Chronic Pancreatitis patients experience the same kind of pain but not others; their giveaway sign would be rapid weight loss without putting in effort (due to digestive failures). Likewise, such patients’ stool will also develop a slimy and smelly form.