Pancreatic Inflammation: Symptoms and Treatment

The role of the pancreas in the human body is very large: it participates in the regulation of energy metabolism, provides digestion, helps the digestion of proteins, regulates glucose levels and is involved in other important processes of the body. Pancreatic inflammation (or pancreatitis) is dangerous with complications that can lead to diabetes mellitus or even pancreatic tissue necrosis.

Symptoms and signs of pancreatic inflammation

The gland is located behind the stomach and nearby with the gall bladder, so if it hurts, then the disease spreads to the pancreas. At the beginning of the development of inflammation, the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis are standard:

  • the girdle nature of the pain;
  • burning pains in the lower thigh area from the back;
  • decreased appetite;
  • increased gag reflex;
  • when leaning forward, the pain decreases;
  • sometimes a rise in temperature is characteristic.

Patients often confuse pancreatitis with osteochondrosis, pyelonephritis and even shingles. But an experienced doctor quickly determines inflammation of the pancreas, since the onset of the disease always goes away with acute pain. To determine that it is not the spine that hurts is easy with palpation: with osteochondrosis or pyelonephritis, tapping in the painful area is noticeable, but with pancreatitis it is not.

Acute form

The acute form of pancreatitis can be treated in a hospital, and doctors must “calm” the pancreas quickly, otherwise the disease threatens to turn into necrosis (tissue death) and death for the patient. Therefore, with the first pain in the epigastric region or with inflammation of the hypochondrium, you should immediately consult a doctor. Acute gland disease leads to mortality in 15% of cases due to untimely access to a specialist. The main signs of acute pancreatic inflammation:

  • tachycardia;
  • vomiting
  • sharp pain around the navel;
  • temperature rise;
  • diarrhea.


If acute pancreatitis occurs due to the activation of pancreatic enzymes, its chronic form is formed by various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, for example, gallstone disease, cholecystitis or hepatitis. Signs of a chronic disease:

  • aversion to fatty foods;
  • pain in the hypochondrium during physical exertion;
  • violation of the stool;
  • sharp loss of body weight;
  • loss of appetite.

Depending on the symptoms, doctors distinguish several forms of chronic pancreatic disease: asymptomatic, painful, recurrent and pseudotumor. In the first form, the patient is unaware of the disease, in pain, he feels periodic pain under the ribs, and with relapses the pain appears, but disappears after the course of treatment. The pseudotumor form of pancreatic inflammation occurs when its head enlarges, overgrowing with fibrous tissue.

Localization of the inflammatory process

If the pancreas becomes inflamed, then the pains are different: aching, cutting, stitching, with a specific localization, for example, under the right rib, or without any localization throughout the abdominal cavity, in the back or groin. The type of this pain directly depends on what part of the gland is inflamed: the body, head or tail. When the localization of pain is blurred, doctors often talk about a complete disease of the organ.

Aching pain in the middle part of the abdominal cavity indicates that the body of the pancreas is inflamed, if the pain is palpable in the right side, the head of the gland is inflamed, and if in the left, the tail. The presence of the last two cases is much worse, because in these parts a volumetric formation (tumor) is formed.

In the head of the pancreas

A general change in the size of the pancreas is much safer than an increase in any part of it. The head of the gland has a special shape and a peculiar structure: it is located in an adult at the level of the first two vertebrae, and in a newborn baby is slightly higher. In adulthood, the normal size of the head of the pancreas should reach up to 35 mm, and if it is smaller or larger in size, then this is considered a pathology.

Volumetric formation of the pancreatic head is usually detected during ultrasound of the abdominal cavity and is considered a dangerous disease. It can be benign or poor quality, which requires immediate removal. Such a disease is often found in people after 60 years. Even a visually experienced doctor determines the first signs of inflammation of the head of the gland: a change in skin color and staining of the eye proteins in yellow. Treatment of this form of the disease occurs in a hospital setting.

In the tail

The tail of the pancreas has a pear-shaped shape bent upward and closely approaches the spleen. In an adult healthy person, the optimal tail width of an organ is 20-30 mm, and its length is about 15 cm. A strong pathology of the gland tail is its expansion or tightening, against which an obstruction of the splenic vein or subrenal form develops.

A tumor in the tail of the gland is rare: about a quarter of all gastrointestinal diseases. But if it is diagnosed, then often the tumor is immediately malignant and almost impossible to treat, since it is detected late, when it already reaches a significant size. When operating a tumor in the tail of the pancreas, doctors often have to remove nearby organs.

Causes of the disease

In most cases, the causes of pancreatic disease are related to alcohol. Moreover, it does not matter what was drunk the day before: expensive vodka or homemade wine. People are used to thinking that alcohol gives the main burden to the liver, which leads to cirrhosis, but it can cope with alcohols with the help of its enzymes until a certain point. The pancreas does not have such proteins at all, so alcohols hit immediately on an organ that is not able to defend itself.

Also, the following factors are considered to be causes of organ inflammation:

  • Diseases of the biliary tract. When bile is thrown into the pancreas, special substances accumulate that activate the gland’s own enzymes, creating tissue edema, damage to blood vessels and various hemorrhages. If you do not take into account alcoholic pancreatitis, then this form of inflammation is 70% of all diseases of the gland.
  • The formation of stone or sand. In the pancreatic duct under the influence of malnutrition, stones are often formed that, when exiting, block the duct, causing inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Diseases of the duodenum or stomach. A stomach ulcer, gastritis, or any other inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract contribute to the discharge of untreated intestinal contents into the pancreatic ducts, which leads to an exacerbation of pancreatitis.
  • Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, pregnancy. In these cases, there is a violation of normal circulation, limiting the nutrition of the pancreas, developing inflammation.
  • Chemical or food poisoning. In case of poisoning with alkalis, acids, toxins, intoxication or helminthic invasion, pancreatic enzymes are activated, which often leads to pancreatitis.
  • Uncontrolled medication. Some drugs activate gland enzymes, so you need to take them strictly under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Overeating. If the body disrupts fat metabolism with a tendency to overeat, the risk of pancreatitis increases at times. Especially if a person is abusing fried, fatty and spicy foods.
  • Injuries or injuries to the abdomen. With wounds, blunt injuries or unsuccessful surgical interventions on the digestive tract, the risk of developing acute inflammation of the organ increases.
  • Infections. Chronic hepatitis, chickenpox, liver failure, tonsillitis, mumps, purulent processes in the abdominal cavity, intestinal sepsis or dysentery increase the risk of pancreatitis.
  • Genetics. Genetic disorders often cause inflammation of the pancreas in the baby immediately after birth.

How to relieve an attack of pain in a child

At home, doctors strongly do not recommend relieving an attack of acute pancreatitis in a child. With any symptoms of the disease, you need to take the baby to the hospital. But in life there are different situations, for example, medical care is not available. In such situations, it is worth trying to relieve acute pain in the pancreas on your own, and then be sure to send the child to the nearest medical facility. This will require:

  • Strict starvation.
  • Complete rest of the body.
  • Every 30 minutes, give the child ¼ glasses of water.
  • Apply an ice bladder from the back to the pancreas.
  • Seat the child by bending the torso forward.
local_offerevent_note October 2, 2019

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