What is pancreatitis?

Stones, inflammations, the abuse of alcohol and fats, bacteria, or metabolic damage can obstruct the bile ducts, causing pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Know its symptoms and treatment.

Pancreatitis is defined as inflammation of the pancreas due to obstruction of the bile ducts because of calculations and inflammation. Still, it can also be produced by toxic substances, bacteria, or metabolic damage.

The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen, behind the stomach, responsible for producing hormones such as insulin and glucagon, essential for carbohydrate metabolism, and enzymes such as trypsin and chymotrypsin, which participate in the digestive process.

Pancreatitis is a disease that causes a good number of hospital admissions, presenting an incidence of around 40 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year.

Regarding their differences by gender, it is more frequent in men linked to alcohol consumption, while women have more cases of those associated with gallbladder stones. In recent decades, the issues probably related to cholelithiasis about obesity have increased.

Pancreatitis, according to its clinical evolution, can be acute or chronic.

Acute pancreatitis

In acute pancreatitis, the pancreas is self-digested by its enzymes, the secretion of which is altered and is produced towards the interior of the organ instead of towards the duodenum, causing edema, destruction of pancreatic tissue, and passage of enzymes and toxins to blood.

It generally manifests itself after excessive and continued consumption of fat or alcohol and, once it resolves, the pancreas recovers its function completely.

Pancreatitis can be a painful process, putting lives at risk when it is accompanied by the failure of other organs due to necrosis of this viscus.

Chronic pancreatitis

This condition progresses slowly and consists of the pancreas’ morphological and functional alteration irreversibly, being this incapable of producing pancreatic juice.

The disease’s clinical manifestations may include an episode of acute pancreatitis or are characterized by the continued progression of symptoms.

In 60-80% of acute pancreatitis cases, the most common causes are gallstones and alcohol abuse.

This condition is common in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and those with hyperparathyroidism and hypercalcemia.

This disorder’s appearance has also been observed in the postoperative period after abdominal and thoracic surgery and in people with excessive levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia, specifically high levels of triglycerides).

Any tumor or inflammation that obstructs or reduces the duct’s diameter that drains the pancreas can cause inflammation. Some malformations such as the pancreas divisum, diverticula’s appearance in the duodenum, or other alterations are causes of pancreatitis, although they are rare.

Chronic pancreatitis is due in 90% of cases to regular consumption of alcohol, being more frequent among males aged 35 to 45 years. Even moderate alcohol consumption can cause pancreatitis in people with a genetic predisposition, especially if it is associated with specific dietary habits, drug use, and other factors. High-protein diets can favor the development of pancreatitis in alcoholics.

Occasionally it appears in conjunction with cystic fibrosis or hyperparathyroidism or as a genetically transmitted inherited disease.