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How To Tell If You Have Chronic Pancreatitis

It’s often hard to tell where the pain in our body is coming from, especially when it’s internal. This can often lead to increased anxiety and confusion as well as a prolonged diagnosis. If you don’t know what the issue is, it may even put you off seeking the medical help you need.

Chronic pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas is permanently damaged from inflammation. It is rare and hard to diagnose, so if you’re worried that you may be suffering from chronic pancreatitis, we’ve created this guide to help.

Chronic pancreatitis causes

Chronic pancreatitis is a rare disease, which makes determining the cause complicated. Generally, for most sufferers, it’s likely caused by a combination of inherited (genetics) and environmental factors. The most common environmental factors are excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption. However, this doesn’t mean that a heavy drinker or smoker will get chronic pancreatitis, as it’s still very rare.

In terms of genetic causes, there are a couple of possibilities:

The cystic fibrosis gene

This is the most common genetic cause and means people with chronic pancreatitis are likely to have a single, abnormal copy of the cystic fibrosis gene.

Hereditary pancreatitis

This is a rare disease but it does run in families, so if your parent has the condition, you are more likely to get it as well.

Chronic pancreatitis symptoms

There are numerous symptoms to look for that could mean you are suffering from chronic pancreatitis. A few of these are:

  • Diarrhoea and weight loss
  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen (centrally just below the ribs) that may spread to the back. It can be constant or intermittent
  • General abdominal discomfort, nausea and bloating
  • General unwellness, including feeling lethargic and fatigued
  • Experiencing greater side effects when taking pain relief medication

How can chronic pancreatitis be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic pancreatitis, but it is possible to control the symptoms and improve the quality of your life whilst living with the disease. To help control it, you will be advised to:

  • Give up smoking and drinking
  • Take digestive enzymes to help with digestion
  • Speak to a specialist dietitian or HPB specialist

If you’re worried that you may be suffering from chronic pancreatitis, contact Birmingham HPB Clinic for more medical advice and guidance today.