The pancreas is an important organ that is vital to endocrine function within your body. It releases important hormones and enzymes directly into the bloodstream and plays a key role in glucose control and digestion. When your pancreas does not function properly, it can have far-reaching negative consequences throughout your body, so finding an experienced doctor who understands the best treatment options for pancreatitis is essential to making sure you stay healthy now and long into the future.
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas that may be either chronic (lasting for at least a few months or longer) or acute (lasting for a short time). Pancreatitis can be mild, moderate, or severe, and can cause everything from mild discomfort to serious tissue damage, cysts, and even damage to other vital internal organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and heart. Chronic pancreatitis often occurs following an acute pancreatitis episode and can also be a result of heavy alcohol intake. Alcohol use can cause pancreatitis symptoms to manifest following years of no symptom manifestation. Pancreatitis can cause damage to the pancreas as digestive enzymes within the organ activate too early and attack the pancreas before these enzymes can be released as they should be into the intestines.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
A person with acute pancreatitis will notice an increased heart rate, fever, swollen or tender abdomen, nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain that can radiate through the upper abdomen and into the back which is often irritated by ingesting food that is high in fat. Chronic pancreatitis will manifest symptoms that are very similar to those of the acute version of the disease. Patients with chronic pancreatitis may also experience weight loss that results from poor nutrient absorption because of pancreatic dysfunction.
Diabetes may also result from chronic pancreatitis because sometimes the insulin-producing cells contained in the organ are damaged as a result of the other condition. It is important if you notice these symptoms that you speak with an experienced pancreatitis doctor who can offer precise diagnosis and comprehensive treatment.
How will a doctor diagnose and treat my pancreatitis?
The first step in a pancreatitis diagnosis is measurement of the levels of important digestive enzymes in the blood. Amylase and lipase can be screened for during a blood draw and abnormally high levels of these two substances can indicate that a person is struggling with acute pancreatitis. A pancreatic function test can measure whether your pancreas is creating the appropriate amounts of specific enzymes and a glucose tolerance test will measure damage that may impact the amount of insulin your body makes. Radiology imaging may be used to diagnose other issues and examine potential bile ducts. Once you have received your diagnosis, you will most likely be given pain medication or IV fluids to address acute pancreatitis.
Depending on the severity of your illness, hospitalization or surgery to remove damaged tissue may be necessary. Chronic pancreatitis treatment will focus on relieving pain and improving malabsorption by giving the patient necessary digestive enzymes and insulin if necessary, as well as focusing on dietary changes.
If you are looking for a top pancreatitis doctor in the NYC area, contact Vanguard Gastroenterology today. We provide comprehensive testing and ongoing treatment and support for patients with both acute and chronic pancreatitis in a compassionate and comfortable office environment. We serve patients from New York NY, Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, The Bronx NY, East Elmhurst NY, Ridgewood NY, Valley Stream NY, and Staten Island NY.