Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, is a serious condition. Your pancreas is a large gland that is located behind your stomach and it secretes digestive juices to help digest the food that you eat.

Pancreatitis is no fun

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Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, is a serious condition. Your pancreas is a large gland that is located behind your stomach and it secretes digestive juices to help digest the food that you eat. It also secretes the hormone insulin which regulates your blood sugar or glucose.

Some folks get acute pancreatitis once and they hope that they never have it again. Unfortunately some people have pancreatitis recurring off and on – that is called chronic pancreatitis. It is a very serious health condition, and often warrants time in the hospital to get it under control.

The symptoms of pancreatitis will usually bring a person in to see their doctor:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

There are a number of causes of pancreatitis:

  • Gallstones
  • Heavy alcohol intake
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Certain medications

Treatment of pancreatitis:

  • Often a hospital stay
  • IV fluids
  • No food intake at all to rest the pacnreas
  • Antibiotics

Chronic or recurring pancreatitis is the form that can be lifestyle driven. Heavy alcohol intake is at the top of the list as the source of the problem. Having high levels of blood fats such as cholesterol or triglycerides can be the culprit as well as certain autoimmune diseases.

Once the pancreatitis has settled down, most doctors will suggest attention to diet to be sure there is not a recurrence. So that means a very healthy low-fat diet with small meals. Pancreatic enzymes might need to be taken with each meal to help digest the food. And of course, plenty of fluids will be needed to stay well-hydrated. And get the lipids under good control.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.