Pancreatitis

Friday, July 06, 2012

Pain in your upper abdomen could be more than just an upset stomach. It could be pancreatitis. How serious is this condition and what can be done about it? Dr. Edward Hill tells us in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that makes the hormones insulin and glucagon. The pancreas also makes enzymes that help you digest food.

Inflammation of the pancreas happens when digestive enzymes attack the pancreas itself. The inflammation may develop suddenly or over many years.

Gallstones and alcohol abuse are the most common causes of pancreatitis. Less common causes of pancreatitis are infections, high triglycerides, certain medicines and injury.

Upper abdominal pain is the main symptom of ongoing pancreatitis. You also may have trouble digesting food, which can cause diarrhea and weight loss. In severe cases, if the damaged pancreas no longer makes enough insulin, you can develop diabetes.

Most attacks of pancreatitis are treated in the hospital with pain medicine and fluids until the inflammation goes away. For some people, surgery is needed to remove the gallbladder or a part of the pancreas that has been damaged.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.