Addressing Pain of Pancreatitis
A healthy pancreas produces enzymes for digestion and hormones that are critical for regulating blood sugar. Pancreatitis – inflammation of the organ – can cause pain and digestive symptoms, and depending on the cause and extent of damage, it sometimes leads to serious, ongoing health problems, including diabetes.
Unfortunately, few options exist to treat pancreatitis or the pain it generates. In fact, there are no approved drugs in the U.S. for pancreatitis treatment, and the Food and Drug Administration has OK’d clinical trials for only one medication that may be effective for one form of the disease, said Dr. James Andersen, Principal Investigator at Meridien Research’s Lakeland, FL. clinic.
“A healthy pancreas produces enzymes like amylase, lipase and trypsinogen that break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the small intestine. But in a damaged or unhealthy pancreas, inefficiencies of these enzymes can cause chronic indigestion and diarrhea,” Dr. Anderson explained.
An inflamed pancreas typically causes pain in the upper-center of the abdomen; other possible symptoms include:
• Nausea or vomiting.
• Abdominal tenderness.
• Unintentional weight loss.
• Bloating with a distended, or swollen, abdomen.
An acute attack of pancreatitis may last a few minutes or several hours.
What Causes Pancreatitis?
Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. Because the gallbladder and the pancreas share a bile duct, a gallstone blocking the duct can prevent the pancreas from emptying properly. When the gallbladder problem is treated – usually with diet and lifestyle changes – the pancreatitis usually goes away.
Alcohol abuse is another common underlying factor. “The damage to the pancreas is a lot like the damage done to the liver from heavy drinking,” Dr. Andersen said. “Scar tissue develops in the pancreas, and it becomes very painful.”
Pancreatitis treatment ranges from dietary changes to gallbladder or pancreas surgery. One drug in U.S. clinical trials, already in use in Japan, specifically targets pancreatitis related to gallbladder problems.
Dr. Andersen, and his team at Meridien Research’s site in Lakeland, FL, conduct clinical trials for a variety of indications, including pancreatitis.
If you or a member of your family suffers from this potentially debilitating condition, call 888-777-8839 or go to the Studies page of our website for specific study information.