Inflamed pancreas, ie acute pancreatitis, is a serious health problem that must be detected and treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, severe complications can occur.
Dr. Irina Cuciureanu, internal medicine doctor,
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explained to the Doctor what the causes and symptoms of acute pancreatitis are.
In size, the pancreas is the second ancillary gland of the digestive system, after the liver. It is about 15-25 centimeters long, has the shape of a flattened pear, and is located on the left side of the abdomen, behind the stomach, in its vicinity being: small intestine, liver and spleen.
The two major functions of the pancreas
The head of the pancreas is the widest part of it and is located towards the center of the abdomen, where the stomach communicates with the first part of the small intestine, in order to
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there he spills the partially digested food, and there the pancreas releases the secreted enzymes.
Being a mixed gland, the pancreas has two important functions: exocrine function (external secretion) and endocrine function (internal secretion).
“Due to its exocrine function, the pancreas produces and secretes in the duodenum the enzymes necessary for digestion, which include trypsin and chymotrypsin, which help digest proteins, amylase, for the digestion of carbohydrates, and lipase, to digest fats. If these enzymes are not discharged, the necessary nutrients are not absorbed in the body and can occur
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malnutrition, ”explains Dr. Cuciureanu.
The doctor states that, due to the endocrine function, the pancreas produces and secretes hormones in the bloodstream, the most important being insulin and glucagon. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels, and glucagon raises blood sugar levels when the body needs it, as maintaining sugar levels within healthy limits is essential for the optimal functioning of vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, brain and cardiovascular system.
The main causes of inflammation of the pancreas
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it occurs suddenly and is an inflammation of the pancreas. When the pancreas is inflamed, the process of secretion and transport of enzymes is difficult, so they can be activated while they are still at the pancreatic level and can cause tissue damage. Inflammatory cells and locally accumulated toxins can also spread to other organs: lungs, heart, kidneys.
The incidence of acute pancreatitis is 30-50 cases in a number of 100,000 people for a year, “adds Dr. Irina Cuciureanu.
Although, practice has shown that anyone can get pancreatitis
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acute, however, there are some situations in which the risk of developing this disease is significantly higher.
The main causes of acute pancreatitis, about 80%, are, according to the internist: gallstones (gallstones) and excessive alcohol consumption.
“Gallstones can migrate through the bile duct and block the pancreatic duct. Thus, the flow of pancreatic enzymes in the duodenum is blocked and their activation takes place inside the pancreas, and some of them leave the place where they are produced and stored, and produce a self-digestion of pancreatic tissues or organs around the pancreas, leading to inflammation. severe, ”says the specialist.
Substances that result from the process of self-digestion that reach the blood, cause disorders of functioning: heart, liver or lungs. These substances also irritate the abdominal nerve tissue, causing great pain.
Excessive alcohol consumption (especially in a short period of time, the so-called drunkenness) can destroy the channel through which pancreatic enzymes are eliminated and thus acute pancreatitis can occur (over 50% of cases).
Other factors (with a lower frequency) that contribute to the onset of acute pancreatitis, may be, according to doctor Irina Cuciureanu:
– hereditary pancreatitis;
– autoimmune pancreatitis (in which the immune system attacks its own cells);
– tumors that compress or invade the bile duct;
– perforated gastric ulcer in the pancreas;
– autoimmune diseases;
– uremic hemolytic syndrome;
– severe dyslipidemia (high concentration of fat in the blood – triglycerides);
– severe abdominal trauma, which would also result from: accidental injury to the pancreas during abdominal surgery or investigations such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP);
– bacterial and fungal infections (tuberculosis, lung infections, mycoplasma pneumoniae, campylobacter);
– viral infections (HIV, Coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, viruses: urlian and hepatitis, mumps);
– hereditary factors (certain gene mutations), including cystic fibrosis;
– infections caused after abdominal surgery and after a kidney transplant;
– digestive parasitosis;
– Kawasaki boala;
– Reye’s syndrome;
– hypercalcemia – ie the presence in the blood of a high level of calcium (as in hyperparathyroidism);
– side effects of some medicines, such as: certain contraceptives, estrogens, certain thiazide diuretics, furosemide, steroids, immunosuppressants, antiretrovirals, metronidazole, azathioprine, cortisone, sulfamides, aspirin (in children), etc .;
Symptoms, acute pancreatitis
“The most significant symptom that occurs in acute pancreatitis is intense pain in the upper central abdomen, below the ribs, which is accentuated after meals,” draws the attention of the doctor.
Pain can radiate: left or right (called “bar” pain). The pain can also radiate backwards in about 50% of cases. Less often, the pain can also be in the lower abdomen.
The pain can range from mild to unbearable. Usually, the pain appears suddenly.
In pancreatitis caused by alcohol consumption, usually the pain appears about 1-3 days after consuming a larger amount of alcohol in a short time (so-called drunkenness).
Most of the time, the pain becomes very intense, continuous, and the patient can no longer find a position to sit. , the pain may be relieved.
Other symptoms may include:
– low appetite (lack of appetite);
– frequent hiccups,
– abdominal distension (enlargement of the abdomen), which is present in approximately 20% of patients, which is caused by the pancreatic inflammatory mass displacing the pancreas,
– ascites (which can also be caused by rupture of the pancreatic duct),
– sensitive abdomen,
– soft chairs,
– greasy stools,
– the appearance of cherry-colored spots, bruises or nodules on the abdomen,
– high blood pressure, which in some cases can stabilize when the patient gets to his feet, which can lead to the patient fainting.
– itchy skin.
In severe forms may occur:
– cold sweats,
– scleral jaundice (white of the eyes),
– fast pulse (100-140 beats per minute),
– difficulty breathing, polypnea (breathing: fast, frequent, shallow),
– the accumulation of blood and pancreatic juice in the abdominal cavity, which decreases the circulating blood volume and greatly reduces blood pressure (significant postural hypotension), which can evolve until the onset of shock and coma.
– increase in blood pressure,
Rarely, the entire abdomen has a severe peritoneal irritation, which leads to stiffening of the abdominal muscles, also called “wooden abdomen”.
See a doctor urgently if you have the above symptoms!
Usually, the general condition of the patient is visibly affected, and the patient needs emergency care.
If acute pancreatitis worsens, patients become less and less aware of what is happening around them, so some of them end up in the hospital unconscious.
If a person has the symptoms described above, they should see a doctor immediately for investigation and treatment.
“If a person has the symptoms described above, he must urgently go to the doctor for investigation and treatment,” concludes Dr. Cuciureanu.
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Any decision about your health should only be made after consultation with your doctor.
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