What Are The Treatment Options For Pancreatitis?

Posted By Author on August 25, 2022

Pancreatitis is a GI condition that involves the inflammation of the pancreas, an organ found behind the stomach on the left side of the body. Inflammation – and the unpleasant symptoms it causes – occurs when the enzymes used for digestion begin to attack the pancreas. Stomach pain as well as nausea and vomiting are common symptoms.

There are, in fact, two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. The condition is considered chronic if it persists or worsens over time. We have detailed the available treatments for pancreatitis below, but if you are experiencing symptoms, be sure to visit a gastroenterologist near you as soon as possible.

Gastroenterologist addressing treatment options for pancreatitis

What Is The Function of The Pancreas?

The pancreas plays a vital role in digestion by producing enzymes that break down food. The enzymes responsible for digesting food include the following:

  • Lipase: This digestive enzyme works in tandem with the bile produced by your liver to break down fat. If lipase is in short supply, your body will have trouble absorbing fat in your diet. Symptoms include diarrhea and fatty bowel movements.
  • Protease: Tasked with breaking down the proteins in your diet, this digestive enzyme also protects you from certain germs found in the small intestine. If proteins are not digested, some people may experience an allergic reaction.
  • Amylase: This digestive enzyme aids in the breakdown of starches into sugar, which the body then uses for energy. Without amylase, you may experience diarrhea. 

In addition to digestive enzymes, the pancreas also produces vital hormones that are sent to your bloodstream, including:

  • Insulin: This hormone helps your body use sugar for energy. Without it, blood sugar levels rise and eventually, some patients develop diabetes.
  • Glucagon: If your blood sugar levels get too low, glucagon helps raise them by sending a message to your liver to release stored sugars.
  • Gastrin: This hormone stimulates gastric acid production in your stomach.
  • Amylin: This hormone helps control your appetite and stimulates stomach emptying. 

Treatment Options for Pancreatitis

Once the pancreas becomes inflamed, it cannot produce the proper enzymes and hormones. This makes a major impact on digestion, so be sure to visit a Charleston GI specialist right away. Our gastroenterologists near you can determine if you are suffering from acute or chronic pancreatitis – and create a treatment plan to provide much-needed symptom relief.

Treatment for Acute Pancreatitis:

With proper treatment and plenty of rest, acute pancreatitis symptoms typically subside within a few days. Treatment options include:

  • Pain management through necessary medications
  • Lifestyle changes (avoid alcohol, stop smoking, etc.)
  • Diet modification (avoid foods with high levels of fat)
  • IV fluids 
  • Surgery if gallbladder stones develop
  • Abscess fluid draining if needed
  • Removal of damaged parts of the pancreas if necessary
  • Fasting for one to two days

Treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis:

Treatment for chronic pancreatitis is designed to manage symptoms and prevent further complications. Because pancreatic damage is irreversible, it is important to follow your GI specialist’s recommendations. An endoscopic ultrasound of your upper abdomen may be performed to confirm your diagnosis. Similar to those above, treatment options include:

  • Surgery to remove pancreatic stones or other blockages
  • Pain management through necessary medications
  • Stopping eating or drinking for one to two days 
  • Feeding tube for severe cases
  • Daily enzyme supplements and vitamins
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Stopping smoking
  • Consuming smaller meal and a higher protein, lower fat diet

Make Your Next Appointment with Your Trusted Gastroenterologist at Charleston GI!

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, contact Charleston GI today! Our team is here to help you feel your best – no referral needed! Our specialists are dedicated to your care, conveniently located throughout the Charleston area. 

We have four office locations to ensure you find quality care close to home, so come see us in the cities of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant or Summerville! Schedule your appointment today.

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