One of the potential consequences of long-term alcoholism is pancreatitis, either in the acute or chronic form. It is essentially inflammation of the pancreas, with the acute form of the condition being a passing bout of inflammation and the chronic form being consistent. Alcohol addiction is closely linked to pancreatitis, and this is more likely for heavier drinkers or those who’ve drank for several years. Finding out about the symptoms of alcoholic pancreatitis and the potential complications associated with the condition helps you determine whether you or your loved one should seek further care. Most often, acute cases of p
ancreatitis will disappear without intervention and leave no lasting damage, but it can be much more severe.
The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach. It plays an integral role in producing insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels, and it sends important digestive enzymes to the small intestine. Inflammation of the pancreas damages the entire organ, and can therefore have serious consequences for the individual’s digestion. The precise reason that alcoholism often leads to pancreatitis isn’t known, but a team of researchers have speculated that alcohol stimulates the production of fatty acids. These destroy the organ’s cells and reduce the amount of energy it can produce. Regardless of the specific mechanism, it’s known that eight out of ten cases of chronic pancreatitis are caused by long-term alcohol addiction.
Acute pancreatitis is a short-term and reversible form of the condition. The most notable symptom is pain in the abdominal region, which may feel as if it is stretching across the individual’s entire back. The pain can be severe, but it will usually disappear after around an hour. The other common symptoms are fever, nausea and vomiting. Most instances of acute alcoholic pancreatitis will be minor, but one out of every five cases is more severe. Out of these individuals, one in every four will die as a result of the condition, usually because pancreatic enzymes can leak out into the blood and damage vital organs. Attending treatment for alcohol addiction and getting clean can reduce the frequency of acute attacks. If you maintain abstinence, they will eventually stop.
If the individual continues drinking heavily for a long period of time (often over a decade) they might develop chronic pancreatitis, which is irreversible. This means that the individual will need medication to assist with the digestion of food for the remainder of their lives. The pain which occurs in the mild form of the condition appears regularly, and suffers also report weight loss.
As well as the discomfort associated with chronic pancreatitis, it makes you more susceptible to other conditions. Diabetes is caused by an inability to produce insulin, so the damaged pancreas makes this more likely. There is also an increased risk of pancreatic cancer due to the damage to the organ. If the chronic form of the condition is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, continuing to drink can reduce your life expectancy by 10 to 20 years. Regardless of the severity of the alcoholic pancreatitis, the best action you can take is to stop drinking and switch to a low fat diet.
Finding an alcohol rehab is absolutely essential if you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of acute or chronic pancreatitis. We have a comprehensive knowledge of the different options available to you across the country and we can suggest the most suitable centres for your requirements. We know that overcoming alcohol addiction isn’t easy, and we provide free advice to help you get the right treatment. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you!