Acute Pancreatitis : 7 Things You Should Know

December 02, 2018

Everything you should know about acute pancreatitis - risk factors, symptoms, treatment and prevention. Be prepared with CallHealth.

An inflammation of the Pancreas accompanied by shooting pain- Acute Pancreatitis leaves the patient writhing in discomfort. It usually lasts for a few days and ranges from mild discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness.
Most people with acute pancreatitis recover completely after getting the right treatment. In severe cases, acute pancreatitis can result in bleeding into the gland, serious tissue damage, infection, and even cyst formation.

1. What puts me at risk of Acute Pancreatitis?
Risk factors for acute pancreatitis include

  • Alcoholism
  • Gallstones
  • The family history of pancreatitis
  • Abdominal infections and injuries
  • High triglycerides
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Smoking
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Drugs like steroids, isoniazid, septran

2. What are the symptoms of this condition?
This condition is characterised by pain in the abdomen and occasional fever. In case of persistent pain make sure to consult a physician at the earliest.

  • You may feel pain in the upper abdomen

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  • Abdominal pain may feel like radiating to your back
  • Abdominal pain might get worse after eating and gets relieved on bending forward.
  • You may experience fever with a rapid pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting can also occur
  • You might feel a tenderness when touching the abdomen

3. Whats the diagnosis for Acute Pancreatitis?
Your doctor may advise some of the following tests if acute pancreatitis is suspected

  • Serum amylase
  • Serum lipase
  • Ultrasound abdomen
  • X-Ray erect abdomen
  • CT abdomen
  • ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography): An ERCP uses a narrow, flexible tube known as an endoscope, which has a camera on one end. The endoscope will be passed through your mouth and towards your stomach. A special dye that shows up on X-rays is then injected through the endoscope into your bile and pancreatic ducts. After the dye has been injected, X-rays will be taken.
  • MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography)

4. Are there ways to prevent this?

  • An effective way to reduce the risk of acute pancreatitis is abstaining from alcohol.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • It's advisable to avoid eating too many fatty foods with a high cholesterol content.

    Must read about - High Cholesterol Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

5. If diagnosed with Acute Pancreatitis, whats the treatment?
Initial treatment for acute pancreatitis may include

  • Fasting: You'll stop eating for a couple of days in the hospital to give your pancreas a chance to recover. Once the inflammation in your pancreas is controlled, you may begin drinking clear liquids and eating bland foods. With time, you can go back to your normal diet. If your pancreatitis persists and you still experience pain when eating, your doctor may recommend a feeding tube to help you get nutrition.
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Pain medications to relieve abdominal pain
  • Antibiotics
  • Antacids like pantoprazole and ranitidine

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Surgery is reserved for patients not responding to medical management or who develop abscess or necrotic pancreatitis.

6. As a patient, what changes should I bring to my lifestyle?
Once you are discharged from the hospital after acute pancreatitis, taking these measures could be helpful in preventing a relapse

  • Stop drinking alcohol. Seek help if you are unable to quit alcohol.
  • Quit smoking
  • Choose a low-fat diet. Choose a diet that limits fat and emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Drink more fluids. Pancreatitis can cause dehydration, so drink more fluids throughout the day.

7. What other complications can arise from this condition?
There could be several complications of Acute Pancreatitis. These may include:

  • Acute pseudocyst of pancreas
  • Abscess
  • Acute Renal failure
  • Haemorrhage
  • Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS)
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pleural effusion (build-up of fluid in the lungs)


Article by Dr. Chittimalla Ajaiya Kishoar, MBBS, MS (General Surgery),
Consultant Surgeon, CallHealth

Have a question? Consult Dr. Chittimalla online.

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