Centers for Digestive Health

Gastroenterology located in Highland, IN, Merrillville, IN, Gary, IN, DeMotte, IN, Crown Point, IN & Dyer, IN

Pancreatitis is a particularly painful inflammation of the pancreas, a large gland situated behind the stomach. If you're experiencing symptoms of pancreatitis, the experienced gastroenterologists at the Centers for Digestive Health can help. The practice has offices in Highland, Merrillville, Dyer, Gary, Crown Point, and DeMotte, Indiana, where the team provides a range of effective treatments to reduce inflammation and resolve the underlying cause of pancreatitis. For relief from pancreatitis pain, call the Centers for Digestive Health today or book an appointment online.

Pancreatitis Q&A

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a condition where inflammation develops in your pancreas – a long, flattish gland in your upper abdomen, behind your stomach. Your pancreas creates enzymes that assist digestion and hormones such as insulin that help in blood sugar regulation.

Acute pancreatitis appears quickly and lasts for a matter of days. You can also get chronic pancreatitis, which persists for many years. Mild pancreatitis may not require treatment, but a severe case could result in life-threatening complications.

What symptoms does pancreatitis cause?

Symptoms of pancreatitis vary, depending on whether you have an acute or chronic form of the condition. Acute pancreatitis causes pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back and worsens after you eat. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Abdominal tenderness

Chronic pancreatitis also causes upper abdominal pain. You may also start losing weight without being on a diet and have steatorrhea (oily, smelly stools).

What causes pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis results from the digestive enzymes in your pancreas becoming activated, causing irritation of the cells that produces inflammation. 

Repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis may cause damage to the pancreas, leading to chronic pancreatitis and scar tissue formation. The resulting loss of function can cause digestive problems and trigger diabetes.

Risk factors for developing pancreatitis include:

  • Hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels in the blood)
  • Undergoing abdominal surgery
  • Some types of medication
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity
  • Infection
  • Abdominal injury

Having a condition like gallstones, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatic cancer can also increase your chances of developing pancreatitis. Another possible cause is an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism), resulting in high calcium levels in your blood (hypercalcemia).

How is pancreatitis treated?

Initial treatments for pancreatitis aim to reduce inflammation. You may have to stop eating for a few days so your pancreas can heal. 

If your symptoms persist, you might need a feeding tube to ensure you're getting adequate nutrition. Pancreatitis can be extremely painful, so medications to control your discomfort may be necessary.

As the inflammation subsides, the Centers for Digestive Health team can address the underlying cause of your condition. That might involve undergoing a procedure called ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), a minimally invasive technique the Centers for Digestive Health team uses to examine and treat the pancreas and bile ducts.

Other ways of relieving pancreatitis include using pancreatic enzyme supplements to aid digestion, addressing issues like alcoholism, and eating nutritious, low-fat meals.

For expert assessment and treatment of pancreatitis, call the Centers for Digestive Health today or book an appointment online.