Chronic pancreatitis : Treatment

Treatment

People with severe pain or who are losing weight may need to stay in the hospital for:

  • Pain medicines
  • Fluids given through a vein (IV)
  • Stopping food or fluid by mouth to limit the activity of the pancreas, and then slowly starting an oral diet
  • Inserting a tube through the nose or mouth to remove the contents of the stomach (nasogastric suctioning) may sometimes be done. The tube may stay in for 1 – 2 days, or sometimes for 1- 2 weeks.

Eating the right diet is important for people with chronic pancreatitis. A nutritionist can help you create the best diet to maintain a healthy weight and receive the correct vitamins and minerals. All patients should be:

  • Drinking plenty of liquids
  • Eating a low-fat diet
  • Eating small, frequent meals (this helps reduce digestive symptoms)
  • Getting enough vitamins and calcium in the diet, or as extra supplements
  • Limiting caffeine

The doctor may prescribe pancreatic enzymes, which you must take with every meal. The enzymes will help you digest food better and gain weight.

Avoid smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, even if your pancreatitis is mild.

Other treatments may involve:

  • Pain medicines or a surgical nerve block to relieve pain
  • Taking insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) levels

Surgery may be recommended if a blockage is found. In severe cases, part or all of the pancreas may be removed.

Prognosis (Expectations)

This is a serious disease that may lead to disability and death. You can reduce the risk by avoiding alcohol.

Complications

  • Ascites
  • Blockage (obstruction) of the small intestine or bile ducts
  • Blood clot in the vein of the spleen
  • Fluid collections in the pancreas (pancreatic pseudocysts) that may become infected
  • Poor function of the pancreas
    • Diabetes
    • Fat or other nutrient malabsorption
    • Vitamin malabsorption (most often the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, or K)

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • You develop symptoms of pancreatitis
  • You have pancreatitis and your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment


Review Date : 1/20/2010
Reviewed By : George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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