The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach that releases enzymes into the duodenum. There are different Pancreatic diseases that will affect a patient which include acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, hereditary pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. These are explained in more detail below:
Acute pancreatitis – this is a sudden attack of the pancreas that causes inflammation and is commonly associated with chronic upper abdominal pain. Depending on the severity of your pain this may last several days. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and bloating. This can be can be caused as a result of gallstones, increased alcohol consumption, medication or infections. This can be treated with the patient having regular fluids staying hydrated, people with mild acute pancreatitis are generally not restricted in what they can eat but if problems are severe you may be advised to not eat solid foods. This can also be treated with painkillers to limit pain in your stomach.
Chronic pancreatitis – this is a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed and does not heal or improve its condition. As it worsens over time it will lead to more permanent damage resulting in a patient having difficulty to digest food and produce pancreatic hormones, its most common symptom is severe stomach pain. The main cause of this condition is a high alcohol consumption, other less common causes are smoking and the immune system attacking the pancreas. Treatment usually focuses on lifestyle changes and medication to assist in relieving the pain, surgery can be needed to treat the chronic pain that doesn’t respond to the pain killers.
Hereditary pancreatitis – Hereditary pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas caused by a patients inherited genes, it is a rare condition but does mean the disease can be passed from each generation in a persons family. This disease can worsen over time with a risk of more permanent problems, symptoms usually include abdomen pain, diarrhea, diabetes or malnutrition. Treatment can be provided with the aim of cotnrolling the pain and replacing the pancreatic enzyme.
Pancreatic cancer – Pancreatic cancer is a condition in which cancerous cells develop in the tissues of the pancreas, it is caused by abnormal and out of control growth in cells located in the pancreas. In its early stages this condition will not have any symptoms therefore making it difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms are pain in the back or stomach area which can worsen after you lie down or eat, unexpected weight loss and a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eye.
At Hadley Wood Hospital our consultants are professionally trained with many years experience therefore can offer the most appropriate advice to our patients and tailor each service to their needs.