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Pancreatitis
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Pancreatitis

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Diseases & Conditions  

From MayoClinic.com

Treatment

Acute pancreatitis

Severe acute pancreatitis usually requires a hospital stay. If you have complications, you may be admitted to the intensive care unit. Treatment goals include controlling the pain, allowing the pancreas to rest and restoring a normal balance of pancreatic juices. Because the pancreas goes into action whenever you eat, you won't be able to eat or drink for a few days. Instead, you'll receive fluids and nutrition through a vein (intravenously).

If the cause of your attack is gallstones blocking the pancreatic duct, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove the stones. You may eventually need surgery to remove the gallbladder if gallstones continue to pose problems. If alcohol is the cause, treatment may include therapy to stop drinking alcohol.

Mild cases of acute pancreatitis generally improve in a week or less. Moderate to severe cases take longer.

Chronic pancreatitis

The main goals of treatment for chronic pancreatitis are to control pain and treat malabsorption problems.

  • Pain relief. Unlike acute pancreatitis, in which the pain often disappears within a few days to weeks, chronic pancreatitis pain can linger. Persistent pain can be the biggest challenge of chronic pancreatitis. In addition to taking conventional pain relievers, you may receive a prescription for pancreatic enzymes. Enzyme therapy works by increasing the levels of enzymes in the duodenum, which in turn decreases the secretion of enzymes by the pancreas. This is thought to reduce secretion pressure — and hence, pain — within the pancreas. For severe pain that can't be controlled, treatment options include surgery to remove damaged tissue or procedures to block pain signals or deaden those nerves transmitting the pain.

  • Enzyme therapy for malabsorption. Enzyme supplements taken with each meal, such as pancrelipase (Cotazym, Pancrease, Viokase), can treat malabsorption problems caused by the pancreas. The tablets replace those digestive enzymes that the pancreas isn't secreting, helping to restore normal digestion. Depending on the preparation (for example, with Viokase), you may take up to eight tablets with meals — two tablets after eating a few bites, four during the meal, and two after the meal. You may also need to take the tablets with snacks.

Treating diabetes

Chronic pancreatitis can cause diabetes mellitus in some people. Treatment usually involves maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Some people also need insulin injections. Your doctor will talk with you about how to manage diabetes, recognize symptoms of high and low blood sugar and prevent complications.

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