man slightly hunched over whilst holding side of stomach in pain

How To Manage Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis is where the pancreas becomes permanently damaged as a result of repeated and ongoing episodes of inflammation. It causes a range of uncomfortable symptoms including:

  • Burning or shooting pains in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Digestion problems
  • Weight loss
  • Oily stools

People with chronic pancreatitis can reduce or manage their symptoms by making some changes to their lifestyle. Here’s how to manage chronic pancreatitis to reduce the risk of the condition worsening or causing further complications.

Alcohol cessation

Sometimes excessive alcohol consumption is the cause of chronic pancreatitis, but even in instances where alcohol isn’t to blame, it’s still very important to stop drinking. Alcohol exacerbates inflammation of the pancreas and those with chronic pancreatitis are highly likely to experience debilitating pain when they drink.

Those who are dependent on alcohol will need to follow an alcohol cessation program. This might involve peer support groups and one-to-one counselling to find alternative ways to cope with the emotional issues that drive the urge to use alcohol. Sometimes medication is prescribed to alleviate cravings for alcohol or reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Smoking cessation

Smoking can speed up the damage that pancreatitis causes to the pancreas, so it’s important to quit as soon as possible. You could quit cold turkey, gradually reduce your use of cigarettes, or use nicotine replacement therapy. The latter is where you replace the nicotine you’d get from cigarettes with nicotine from another source such as skin patches, chewing gum, lozenges and mouth sprays.

It’s also possible to alleviate nicotine cravings by taking a prescribed medicine like bupropion. This medication acts on the parts of the brain that control addictive behaviour to reduce cravings for nicotine.

Diet changes

Chronic pancreatitis affects your body’s digestive processes so it’s often necessary to reduce or stop the consumption of foods that the body can’t digest well. High-calorie diets with low levels of fat and high levels of protein tend to suit people with chronic pancreatitis. Diet changes ought to be made only with the input of a qualified dietitian or doctor.

Sometimes enzyme supplements are prescribed for chronic pancreatitis. These help to replace the enzymes your pancreas is unable to produce and which help with digestion. Your digestive system can function more effectively with the right enzyme supplements.

Contact us for more advice

If you’re looking for treatment for chronic pancreatitis or need advice on how to better manage your symptoms, get in touch to make an appointment with one of our expert consultants.