What is Pancreatitis?

We all suffer from stomach discomfort now and again, if we eat food that is unhealthy, improperly prepared, or has gone bad. This is often uncomfortable and even embarrassing, but typically passes within a few hours or day. Sometimes, however, stomach pain can be a sign of a serious medical condition, and it should not be ignored if the pain does not subside in a few days. One of the many serious causes of stomach pain is pancreatitis, or an inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal causes for hospitalization, with an estimated 210,000 people admitted to the hospital each year. Chronic pancreatitis, on the other hand, is more rarely diagnosed but it significantly reduces the patient’s quality of life. The pain and suffering associated with pancreatic disorders typically increase with time; therefore, it is important to receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach which releases digestive enzymes into the small intestine. These enzymes are essential in digesting food within the small intestine. When the pancreas is inflamed, however, the enzyme does not reach the intestine and instead attacks and damages the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis may present as either acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and is often caused by gallstones, heavy alcohol use, or smoking. Chronic pancreatitis is a more debilitating disease in which the inflammation of the pancreas does not heal and causes permanent damage. The symptoms of both acute and chronic pancreatitis are similar and include:

  • Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure

In cases of severe or chronic pancreatitis, patients may suffer from severe tissue damage, infection, heart/lung/kidney failure, shock, and even death. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.

Get Help for Pancreatitis

If you or a loved one is suffering from acute or chronic pancreatitis, you need medical help. Dr. Bradley Rieders, chief of gastroenterology at Long Island Jewish-Valley Stream has 30 years of practice diagnosing and treating gastroenterological conditions, such as pancreatitis. He and Dr. Reddy are prepared to help you manage your gastrointestinal health in order to help you live your life free from stomach pain. To discuss your symptoms, contact Dr. Rieders and Dr. Reddy at (516)-265-7049 today.