Do you have any idea where your pancreas is located or what it does? You aren’t alone, as millions of adults are right there with you and have no idea. It’s human nature that we don’t learn about something until it affects us directly, then we invest the time into becoming an expert on the topic. This is exactly what happens with most pancreatitis patients because once you have an attack, you do absolutely anything to never experience one again.
The pancreas is located behind your stomach, and it’s roughly six inches long. It connects to the small intestine and lives on the right upper side of your abdominal area. When it becomes inflamed, the enzymes that typically live inside of the pancreas that help it dissolve foods begin to attack the pancreas. This is a general description of what pancreatitis is; and you can picture what that might feel like for the patient. It’s literally an organ inside your abdomen that is eating itself and it is often so painful patients require morphine to control their pain level.
Symptoms of pancreatitis are obviously extreme pain in the upper abdomen region as well as sometimes the back, vomiting, nausea, and it gets worse after you eat. Pancreatitis attacks can be so severe that the only way the patient can overcome the attack and get back to normal is by being admitted to the hospital and be tube fed. This results in massive weight loss, and the patients then has to gradually be exposed to foods again very slowly to not upset the pancreas.
Other treatments for pancreatitis are prescription medications, seeing a gastro specialist regularly, and being extremely cautious with what you eat. The body cannot handle fatty foods and it will react if you push it too far. Drinking lots of water, eating a low fat diet, and getting in regular exercise such as walking or swimming will greatly improve your pancreas function.
This disease can be very dangerous, which is why it is so vital to always stay on top of it. Any stomach pains felt in the upper abdomen areas shouldn’t be left for a basic tummy ache. If you try to ward off the pain at home for hours, or even days often, it can kill you so always play on the safe side of caution and have it looked at by a doctor. Diagnosing pancreatitis is usually as easy as getting blood work in an emergency room, within minutes they can tell if you have it or not. If pancreatitis is present your enzyme levels will be tested through either blood or urine labs.
Normal levels of enzymes:
- Lipase- 50-175 U/L
- Amylase- 50/120 U/L
There are various reasons why patients are exposed to developing pancreatitis-
- Idiopathic reasons
- Poor nutrition
- Alcohol abuse
Like anything in life, if you put energy into taking good care of yourself you will most likely never have to endure any form of digestive ailments, including pancreatitis. If you’re experiencing stomach pains on a regular basis, always consult with your medical team to locate the source of your pain.