Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. And often its acute form turns into a chronic course of the disease, in which there is a progressive damage to the organ. This is characterized by the gradual replacement of the glandular tissue with a denser one - connective tissue. As a result, functional insufficiency and irreversible changes in the gland develop.
Nutrition is recognized as the main cause of acute pancreatitis. Namely overeating or a diet that is limited in protein and fat (malnutrition). The disease can develop with the consumption of less than 30 g of fat and 50 g of protein per day. After an excessive exercise or a period of insufficient nutrition, the pancreas becomes more vulnerable to the action of other adverse factors, in particular alcohol.
In 25-40% of patients (mainly women), pancreatitis is caused by diseases of the biliary tract - cholecystitis and cholangitis, as well as cholelithiasis and peptic ulcer disease. Alcohol is also a common cause (drinking strong alcohol for 3-10 years). And its combination with smoking significantly increases the risk of developing the disease.
Other causes of pancreatitis include a hereditary predisposition, exposure to the pancreas of toxic and medicinal substances, thyroid diseases, infectious diseases (mumps), internal or surgical trauma.
Acute pancreatitis begins abruptly, with fever, vomiting, stool retention and flatulence in the intestines, as well as sharp back and abdominal pain. Moreover, the pain can be given to the heart, left shoulder blade or shoulder. The general condition is greatly deteriorating. During this period, urgent medical attention is required, and sometimes surgery.
For the chronic course of the disease, characteristic signs are dyspeptic disorders - belching, vomiting and diarrhea. Due to functional changes in the organ, intestinal digestion and absorption are disturbed, and the development of excessive growth of microbes in the small intestine. The result is fetid or watery diarrhea (3 to 6 times a day), flatulence, abdominal pain, occasional vomiting, decreased appetite and weight loss. Later, these manifestations are joined by all the signs of vitamin deficiency.
Also, the main symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include pain in the left hypochondrium or to the left of the navel (depending on the localization of the inflammatory process). With complete damage to the organ, they become diffuse encircling or semi-girdle (in the upper abdomen). Most often, pain occurs 40-60 minutes after eating (especially spicy, fried and fatty). In the supine position, they increase and vice versa, sitting slightly leaning forward, the pain subsides.
External signs of chronic pancreatitis are dryness and flaking of the skin, inflammation of the tongue and oral mucosa (changes due to hypovitaminosis). As a rule, patients are underweight. On the skin of the chest, abdomen, back, sometimes small bright red spots of a round shape, 1-3 mm in size, appear.
Pancreatitis is dangerous in its consequences, as it can turn into pancreatonecrosis (malignant lesion of the pancreas) or diabetes mellitus. Approximately 1/3 of patients have disorders of carbohydrate metabolism in the form of hypoglycemic syndrome, half of them have clinical signs of diabetes mellitus. The development of these disorders is based on cell damage, as a result of which there is a deficiency of not only insulin, but also glucagon.