MBBS, MS, FMAS, and DNB (surgical gastroenterology)
Are you having pain in the abdomen and having loose motions, nausea, and vomiting? It may get diagnosed as food poisoning or stomach infection. You may receive treatment for the same. But it becomes alarming when it doesn’t heal in a stipulated time commonly taken to cure a stomach infection or food poisoning. This is when your family doctor will suggest that you visit a Gastroenterologist.
A gastroenterologist specializes in treating the complications related to your digestive tract. They specialize in treating patients for ailments of the gall bladder, stomach, pancreas, bile duct, colon, small intestine, and other related to the digestive tract. While they work with a team of their own to treat patients, they may also help others doctors in various surgeries.
Dr. Samrat Jankar is well-known among the best gastroenterologists in Pune, India. He has carried out numerous surgeries successfully to gain the reputation and recommendation of patients. He says that many people ignore the minor signs of the disease more often than not.
Here, he explains Chronic Pancreatitis and why ignoring minor signs of any ailment becomes fatal.
What is Chronic Pancreatitis?
Chronic Pancreatitis is a disease where your pancreas has inflammation that does not heal over time.
The pancreas is an organ in your body responsible for the secretion of digestive enzymes, which are essentially proteins that help digestion. It also secretes hormones to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. It is called acute when it appears suddenly and remains for a short duration. However, it turns chronic if it keeps on coming back and takes a long time to heal, sometimes 2-3 years.
Dr. Samrat Jankar, a Surgical Gastroenterologist from Pune, explains that chronic pancreatitis results in permanent scarring and damage. It may result in stones that block the duct or the tube that carries the digestive enzymes. It may cause diabetes and malnutrition.
What are the causes of Chronic Pancreatitis?
Patients usually suffer from chronic Pancreatitis due to alcohol abuse. Other causes include:
- Autoimmune disease occurs when your body mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues.
- A narrowed pancreatic duct is responsible for transferring the enzyme.
- Hypercalcemia- high levels of calcium in your blood.
- Hypertriglyceridemia – high levels of triglycerides in your blood.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatitis?
As explained by Dr. Samrat Jankar earlier, you will entirely miss the initial symptoms. Only when the pancreas has undergone significant change will you notice symptoms like:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss without any weight loss measures.
- Nausea and vomiting
As the disease continues to progress, your symptoms will become severe. You are likely to get:
- Pancreatic fluids in your abdomen
- Intestinal blockage
- Internal bleeding.
Abdominal pain will last for hours together, and gradually it will persist constantly.
How is Pancreatitis diagnosed?
In the initial stages of Pancreatitis, your blood tests will not give away much about your condition. However, blood tests can be carried out for the following parameters:
- Pancreatic enzymes
- Kidney and liver function
But a sure way to diagnose the condition is through various imaging tests.Your doctor may ask you to undergo the following tests to determine your condition:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Ultrasounds- endoscopic ultrasound where the doctor will insert a probe through your mouth into the stomach and small intestine. The probe is fitted with an ultrasound wave generator to generate the image of the pancreas.
You may also be asked to provide a stool sample. The stool is tested for fat content. If the fat content is found in your stools, it indicates that the nutrients are not getting absorbed in your body, malnourishing you – causing weight loss.
Treatment of Chronic Pancreatitis.
The treatment plan for chronic Pancreatitis includes managing the pain and improving digestion since the damage to the pancreas cannot be undone. So overall, you manage your symptoms using the medication, endoscopic procedures to clear blockage or surgery.
- Your doctor will put you on pain medication.
- Digestive enzymes
- Insulin in case you have diabetes
- Steroids if you have an autoimmune disease.
If any blockages are found, an endoscopic procedure is used to clear the blockages, remove stones, insert stents to improve the flow and block leakages.
Surgery is required only if the symptom management plan with medications is not working. A surgical gastroenterologist may remove a part of your pancreas may be surgically removed to provide relief. At the same time, the doctors can remove blockages from the pancreatic duct and widen the duct if it is too narrow.
One should avoid the consumption of alcohol and smoking. It may lead to pancreatic cancer.
Complications of Chronic Pancreatitis.
Chronic Pancreatitis may lead to malnutrition, diabetes, and pseudocysts. Pseudocysts are cysts that form inside or outside the pancreatic walls. They may block ducts and blood vessels and might get infected also.
A protein-rich low-fat diet is recommended for people suffering from Pancreatitis. Avoid processed sugar. So lean meats and fruits and vegetables get a thumbs up from your doctor.
If your digestive issues continue for a long time, a visit to the doctor is something you will thank yourself for later. If caught early, Pancreatitis can be managed well.