Chronic Pancreatitis Diagnosis, Symptoms and Risk Factors

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There are two types: chronic pancreatitis and acute pancreatitis. Chronic Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas which leads to progressive failure of the endocrine and exocrine functions. Pancreatic insufficiency is reflected in:

* Reduced production of pancreatic enzymes that help digest food. This lead to steatorrhea – diarrhea that contains fat and losing weight;
* Reduced insulin production that cause diabetes.

It is important to remember that this disease is different from acute pancreatitis.

Signs and symptoms

* Abdominal pain may be continuous or intermittent, but lighter than in acute pancreatitis and often occur following the consumption of fatty foods;
* Chronic diarrhea;
* Weight loss;
* Signs of diabetes;
* Sensitive to palpation of the abdomen;
* Physical fatigue.

Rarely are found signs of malabsorption of vitamin D, C and B12. The children can develop constipation or nausea.

Excessive use of alcohol is one of the main causes of chronic pancreatitis. However, not all cases must be associated with alcohol abuse, there are other causes of this disease, such as:

* Some medicines;
* Gastroduodenal diseases – gastritis and duodenal ulcer – and hepatobiliary diseases;
* Chronic alcoholism (alcoholism);
* Allergic reactions.

It is possible that in some cases, the disease can not be determined.

Risk factors

1. Inheritance: It is possible, if there were cases in the family, you have to deal with this disease at some point;

2. Sex: 75% of patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis are men;

3. Ethnicity: Studies show that people of color are more exposed to the disease than caucasian;

4. Age: most exposed are those who have passed the age of 45 years. However, chronic pancreatitis in children can occur within the first two years of life.

How is it diagnosed? Diagnosis is based on the four major clinical manifestations: pain, steatorrhea, diabetes mellitus and pancreatic calcification. This is done by:

1. Laboratory investigations
Analysis of amylase (blood enzyme) and lipase (enzyme that breaks down fats) – may be increasing; inactive form of trypsin (enzyme secreted by the pancreas that breaks down proteins into amino acids) and pancreatic polypeptide (inhibits pancreatic exocrine secretion and slows the absorption of digestion), bilirubin – bilirubin concentration in blood (brownish yellow substance found in bile), alkaline phosphatase (enzyme found in liver and bone and is eliminated by the ball);

2. Fecal analysis

3. Secretin test (a hormone secreted by the duodenal mucosa) – is performed only in the missing pancreatic calcifications, steatorrhoea and diabetes;

4. Abdominal ultrasound and CT: is done to uncover any calcifications or pancreatic cysts, gallstones and fatty liver;

5. Gastrointestinal X-ray: is done in order to highlight the distortions in the form of a horseshoe and duodenal thickening retrogastric space.

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