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Pancreatitis (cont.)

Medical Treatment for Pancreatitis

Medical treatment is usually focused on relieving symptoms and preventing further aggravation to the pancreas. Certain complications of either acute pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis may require surgery or a blood transfusion.

Medical Treatment for Acute Pancreatitis

In acute pancreatitis, the choice of treatment is based on the severity of the attack. If no complications are present, care usually focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting body functions so that the pancreas can recover.

  • Most people who are having an attack of acute pancreatitis are admitted to the hospital.
  • Those people who are having trouble breathing are given oxygen.
  • An IV (intravenous) line is started, usually in the arm. The IV line is used to give medications and fluids. The fluids replace water lost from vomiting or from the inability to take in fluids, helping the person to feel better.
  • If needed, medications for pain and nausea are prescribed.
  • Antibiotics are given if the health-care professional suspects an infection may be present.
  • No food or liquid should be taken by mouth for a few days. This is called bowel rest. By refraining from food or liquid intake, the intestinal tract and pancreas are given a chance to start healing.
  • Some people may need a nasogastric (NG) tube. The thin, flexible plastic tube is inserted through the nose and down into the stomach to suck out the stomach juices. This suction of the stomach juices rests the intestine further, helping the pancreas recover.
  • If the attack lasts longer than a few days, nutritional supplements are administered through an IV line.

Medical Treatment for Chronic Pancreatitis

In chronic pancreatitis, treatment focuses on relieving pain and avoiding further aggravation to the pancreas. Another focus is to maximize a person's ability to eat and digest food.

  • Unless people have severe complications or a very severe episode, they probably do not have to stay in the hospital.
  • Medication is prescribed for severe pain.
  • A high carbohydrate, low fat diet; and eating smaller more frequent meals help prevent aggravating the pancreas. If a person has trouble with this diet, pancreatic enzymes in pill form may be given to help digest the food.
  • People diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis are strongly advised to stop drinking alcohol.
  • If the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin, the body needs to regulate its blood sugar, and insulin injections may be necessary.

Surgery for Pancreatitis

If the pancreatitis is caused by gallstones, an operation to have the gallbladder and gallstones removed (cholecystectomy) is likely.

If certain complications (for example, enlargement or severe injury of the pancreas, bleeding, pseudocysts, or abscess) develop, surgery may be needed to drain, repair, or remove the affected tissues.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Pancreatitis, Acute »

The pancreas is a gland located in the upper, posterior abdomen and is responsible for insulin production (endocrine pancreas) and the manufacture and secretion of digestive enzymes (exocrine pancreas) leading to carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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