The function of the pancreas is to release digestive enzymes whichbreak down carbohydrates, fats, oils and proteins. When the pancreasbecomes inflamed, the strong digestive enzymes in the organ becomeactive too soon. Instead of becoming active in the intestines wherethey digest food, they become active inside the pancreas and theenzymes then work on the tissue of the organ itself(autodigestion). This is known as Pancreatitis, and the condition canbe acute or chronic in nature. Acute bouts may only last several hoursor days and be more spontaneous than chronic bouts which areexperienced over longer periods of time. Acute pancreatitis mayresolve in a week, however, if the condition is left to worsen thenscarring of the pancreas may occur. Once this occurs a further declinein the health and function of the organ is experienced and symptommanagement is the only option.
Diagnosis of this condition is via a blood test to investigatewhether there are elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes (amylase andlipase) in the blood, or abdominal X-rays/ CT scan to ascertainwhether the pancreas is enlarged.
SYMPTOMS OF PANCREATITIS
- abdominal pain and swellingespecially after foods high in fats and protein
- steattorhea (excessfat in stools)
- weight loss due to malabsorption
- fever, fastpulse.
- A prolongation of this condition into a chronic state includesthe previous symptoms plus rapid weight loss, diabetes, malnutritionand severe pain.
- Diabetes is a common complication due to the chronicpancreatic damage and may require treatment with insulin.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF PANCREATITIS
- Heavy drinking of alcohol over a long period of time graduallycauses digestive enzymes to be released sooner than normal whichincreases the permeability of the small ducts and damages tissues ofthe pancreas resulting in infection and deterioration of the integrityof these tissues.
- Gallstones develop when small particles of the bile in thegallbladder solidify into a mass and may lodge in the bile duct or thepancreatic duct. If the stone blocks the pancreatic duct, it causesinflammation and may cause pancreatic enzymes to leak and cause damageto tissues.
- Some cases of pancreatitis may be contributed topharmaceutical medications such as antibiotics, antiretroviral andanti-cancer drugs. If you are taking any medication please speak toyour GP concerning this.
DIET TIPS FOR PANCREATITIS
- An appropriate diet is important for relieving symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency and improving nutritional status. Patients with chronic pancreatitis display considerable individual variation in their treatment requirements
- A low carbohdyrate, protein and fat diet in the short term to take the strain off the organ and later on when vitality levels are lifted begin a cleansing diet of the liver and gallbladder
- Lemon juice and bitter foods such as rocket, endive, kale and radicchio are beneficial for digestion as they are classed as bitters
- Reduce food and drinks such as tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, preserved and processed foods, deep fried foods, sugary and bakery foods, oily foods, high carbohydrates and proteins
LIFESTYLE FACTORS FOR PANCREATITIS