The pancreas secretes about 1500-3000mls of fluid per day containing about 20 enzymes. These secretions provide the enzymes needed to affect the major digestive activity of the gastrointestinal tract. If the pancreas is attacked as in pancreatitis enough of these enzymes will not be secreted and there will be problems with digestion and metabolism of food.
These are the ten things you may not know about pancreatitis:
- Pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammatory disease) may be classified as acute (sudden onset type) or chronic (gradual onset type).
- The two most common causes of pancreatitis are excess alcohol intake and gallstones (stones in the gallbladder).
- Any severe acute pain in the abdomen or back may suggest acute pancreatitis
- Pancreatitis may mimic heartburn, heart attack, pneumonia, perforated bowel, intestinal obstruction, and diabetic ketoacidosis (a complication of diabetes mellitus).
- Chronic pancreatitis can cause poor absorption of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) leading to vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Perhaps the most common and troublesome complication of chronic pancreatitis is addiction to narcotics as sufferers may need opioids to control the severe abdominal pain associated with pancreatitis.
- The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increased by chronic pancreatitis.
- Pancreatitis may be inherited (the so called hereditary pancreatitis) which is similar to chronic pancreatitis except that it occurs at an early age. These young sufferers have recurring attacks of severe abdominal pain which may last from a few days to a few weeks.
- In some parts of the world severe malnutrition is a common cause of pancreatitis.
- Removal of the gallbladder is almost always performed in sufferers after the first and second attack of gallstone-associated pancreatitis.
For more information on pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer please make an inquiry.