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Acute Pancreatitis: Signs And Symptoms You Must Watch Out For

Acute pancreatitis: Men are at a higher risk of this condition than women. Read here to know more about this condition from an expert.

Acute Pancreatitis: Signs And Symptoms You Must Watch Out For

Acute pancreatitis can lead to prolonged abdominal pain

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Pancreatitis is a condition when pancreas becomes swollen or inflamed
  2. Stay hydrated if you are suffering from acute pancreatitis
  3. If you are suffering from chronic pancreatitis then avoid fatty foods

Acute pancreatitis is a medical emergency in which your pancreatitis gets swelled and the condition could be severe or life-threatening if left untreated. When the inflammation happens, you may experience excruciating pain in the upper abdomen and the pain also travels to the back. In most of the cases, you need hospitalisation to control the pain and if you have continued episodes then the acute pancreatitis can become chronic too.

It has been found that men are more susceptible to the condition as compared to women. The three most common causes of pancreatitis are due to heavy alcohol use, gallstones and use of certain medications. Acute pancreatitis happens when the gallstone comes out of the gallbladder and settles in the bile ducts and blocks the opening of the bile duct and pancreatic duct. In some cases, genetic conditions are also one of the leading causes behind it.


Know the causes, symptoms and prevention steps of acute pancreatitis

Causes of pancreatitis:

Some direct causes of pancreatitis include sudden immune system attacks on the pancreas, or autoimmune pancreatitis. Pancreatic or gallbladder damage from surgery or injury. Excessive fats called triglycerides in your blood, whereas, the indirect causes includes:

  • Alcohol use
  • Cystic fibrosis, a serious condition that affects your lungs, liver, and pancreas
  • Kawasaki disease, a disease that occurs in children younger than 5-year-old
  • Viral infections like mumps and bacterial infections like mycoplasma
  • Reye's syndrome, a complication from certain viruses that can also affect the liver
  • Certain medications containing estrogen, corticosteroids or certain antibiotics

Also read: Suffering From Acute Pancreatitis? Here Are Some Best And Worst Foods You Should Know

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Excessive use of alcohol is one of the risk factors for acute pancreatitis
Photo Credit: iStock

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis

Prolonged abdominal pain

As discussed above that severe pain the upper abdomen is one of the major symptoms of this condition. Almost everyone, who is having acute pancreatitis experience this pain. With gallstones, the pain usually starts suddenly and reaches its maximum intensity within minutes. If the person is alcoholic, then the pain develops over few days. The pain remains steady and severe for days.

Vomiting tendencies

Sometimes coughing and even deep breathing trigger the pain. In that condition, sitting upright and leaning forward may provide some relief. Sometimes, people even feel nauseated to the extent that they have to vomit.

Fluctuating body temperature and blood pressure

With acute pancreatitis, body temperature may be normal at first but can increase in a few hours (between 37.7 degree C and 38.3 degree C). Blood pressure tends to fall when a person with acute pancreatitis stands as he or she may experience faintness. As the disease progresses, people tend to be less aware of their surroundings-some are nearly unconscious. Occasionally, the whites of the eyes become yellowish. In certain people, the initial symptom may be shock or coma.

Lifestyle and diet modification

Acute pancreatitis is sometimes linked with type-2 diabetes, which affects your insulin production. Eating foods like lean protein, leafy vegetables, and whole grains can help your pancreas produce insulin more regularly and gently.

Stay hydrated at all times. Keep a water bottle or an electrolyte-infused drink with you. You can also prevent acute pancreatitis by limiting the amount of alcohol you drink. If you've already had pancreatitis and haven't made lifestyle changes, there are chances that it may develop again. Children and teens under the age of 19, should not take aspirin unless their doctor prescribes it. Aspirin can cause Reye's syndrome, which is a known trigger for acute pancreatitis.

(Dr. Anukalp Prakash is a Consultant Gastroenterology at Paras Hospital, Gurgaon)


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