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What is the Difference between Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis?


Pancreatitis is sadly a growing ailment that millions of adults have little to no knowledge about. It’s one of those diseases that you don’t ever invest the time in to learn about until it has effected you or someone close to you. There are tons of misconceptions about the disease as well, such as only those that drink alcohol too much develop the disease, which is entirely not true. Patients can develop pancreatitis from cancers, from taking medications, from infections, genetics, or even as a result of a car accident that injured their abdominal section.

Another big misconception is the difference between acute and chronic pancreatitis, so let’s clear those up today:

Acute pancreatitis is when the patient suffers from a quick attack of the ailment, stays in the hospital for a relatively short amount of time, and gets back to their normal routine within a few days or maybe two weeks.

The chronic version is much more involved as it is considered to be a persistent issue for the patient that comes and goes as it pleases. Chronic pancreatitis is more typical for men versus the ladies, and it’s usually attributed to consuming alcohol. Both the acute version and the chronic type have virtually identical symptoms making for some extra effort on your medical team’s part to determine whether or not this will be just a one off episode or something more severe.

Determining chronic pancreatitis can be as simple as locating scar tissue within the pancreas; or it can be as invisible as waiting to see if another attack comes along at some point. Greasy bowel movements is another clear indication of pancreatitis that has developed over time. Weight loss rather quickly is another general occurrence for pancreatitis sufferers.

Telltale symptoms of both versions:

  • Pain, not just stomach ache pain that you can tolerate; this is pain like you’ve probably never experienced before. It can be terrible trying to manage without intravenous medications to lessen the severity of pain. Most patients are immediately placed on morphine to make it more manageable.
  • Vomiting or feeling nauseous are also very typical. While some episodes with pancreatitis don’t ever result in vomiting, the feeling that you will often lingers around for the patient.
  • Fevers or symptoms of the skin changing color are symptomatic of pancreas troubles. It can look as if you are developing a yellowing of the skin, just like a baby with jaundice.
  • Weight loss is very common for those suffering from chronic pancreatitis as the longer you live with the disease the less chance you have of eating a regular diet. Not eating normally or very little because it hurts your stomach will quickly result in weight loss.

If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, or if you have started losing weight because you feel pretty awful after eating, tell your doctor immediately. Pancreatitis can be fatal if not properly treated, and it can also result in pancreatic cancer that can be very challenging to treat. Acting fast is the key to a speedy recovery.

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