Chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis: Pancreas stones:

What are the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis?

Abdomen Pain – the patient may feel pain in the upper abdomen. The pain may sometimes be severe and can travel along the back. It is usually more intense after eating. Some pain relief may be gained by leaning forward.

Nausea and vomiting – more commonly experienced during episodes of pain. Constant pain – As the disease progresses the episodes of pain become more frequent and severe. Some patients eventually suffer constant abdominal pain.As chronic pancreatitis progresses Smelly and greasy feces (stools), Bloating, Abdominal cramps, Flatulence (breaking wind, farting)

Diabetes Develops as disease progresses

What are the causes of chronic pancreatitis?

Chronic pancreatitis is usually the follow-on of repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis which lead to permanent damage of the pancreas.

Alcohol misuse causes 70% of chronic pancreatitis cases.People who misuse alcohol and develop acute pancreatitis tend to have repeated episodes, and eventually develop chronic pancreatitis (long-term) – that is why 70% of all chronic pancreatitis cases are caused by alcohol misuse.

According to the National Health Service, UK, long-term alcoholic misuse that typically causes chronic pancreatitis consists of about 10 to 15 years of 10 units of alcohol per day or more. A typical 750ml bottle of 12% wine contains 9 units of alcohol. Approximately 5% to 10% of people with long-term alcohol misuse develop chronic pancreatitis.

Experts believe that patients with alcoholic chronic pancreatitis have specific genetic mutations which make them more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.

Idiopathic chronic pancreatitis makes up the bulk of the remaining 30% of cases.

When a disease is idiopathic it means there is no known cause or reason to explain why or how it developed. Idiopathic chronic pancreatitis accounts for most of the remaining cases. Most cases of idiopathic chronic pancreatitis start to develop in people aged 10 to 20 years, and those over 50.

Nobody is certain why other age groups are rarely affected. The SPINK-1 and The CFTR genes, types of mutated genes, exist in about 50% of patients with idiopathic chronic pancreatitis. Experts believe these genetic mutations may undermine the functions of the pancreas.

Other much rarer causes include autoimmune chronic pancreatitis in which the person’s own immune system attacks the pancreas, heredity pancreatitis where patients have a genetic condition and are born with a faulty pancreas, and cystic fibrosis, another genetic condition which damages certain organs.

How is chronic pancreatitis diagnosed?

Ultrasound scan.

A CT (computed tomography) scan.

MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography).

Endoscopic Ultrasound can detect early changes of chronic Pancreatitis before CT or MRI can detect.

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