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Learn about alcohol induced pancreatitis

The pancreas is a small organ residing at the rear of your stomach. The pancreas produces essential enzymes, which are used to break down food during the digestion process. Additionally the pancreas secretes a hormone known as ‘insulin’, which regulates the body’s blood sugar levels.

Pancreatitis is the process whereby the pancreas becomes inflamed. This, in turn, damages the molecular structure of the pancreas and its abilities to produce insulin and other enzymes. Your natural ability to fall foul of this terrible illness depends on the quantity of alcohol you consume over a prolonged period of time plus your genetic vulnerability to the illness. Some problem drinkers will fall victim to the illness much faster than others and even where less alcohol is consumed.

Medical science cannot explain exactly how excessive alcohol consumption has this negative effect on the human pancreas, but the causal relationship between heavy drink and pancreatitis is well established.

If you consume alcohol without exceeding your recommended daily intake of alcohol units you can be assured that you will avoid this deadly illness.

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is the variety of pancreatitis which causes a sharp and noticeable pain in the upper abdominal region. Because the pain is noticeable, most people seek medical assistance quickly, for this reason, acute pancreatitis is much less likely to cause permanent damage than chronic pancreatitis.

Studies have shown that 4 in 5 sufferers who contract acute pancreatitis do in fact make a full recovery within a few days. But if you’re unlucky you could end up with a permanently damaged pancreas. In the worst-case scenario the enzymes your pancreas secretes could seep into your bloodstream and cause permanent kidney failure and death.

If you regularly exceed 6 to 8 units of alcohol per day and you exhibit any of the below symptoms which are indicative of acute pancreatitis, you are advised to seek medical attention without delay:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constant ache in your ribs, abdominal area, and back

Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis is similar to acute pancreatitis and differs only in its severity. Chronic pancreatitis tends to be less painful than its acute cousin but chronic pancreatitis lasts for a much longer period and its effects are mostly permanent. Suffers of chronic pancreatitis may require a regime of drugs for the remainder of their lifetime. Such drugs are used to aid the digestion of food and in regulating blood sugar, a function usually is taken care of by a healthy pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis patients may also develop diabetes due to the fact that a damaged pancreas can no longer produce insulin, an essential hormone that controls the body’s blood sugar. Chronic pancreatitis has also been known to cause unpleasantries such as pancreatic cysts known as ‘pseudocysts’ and pancreatic cancer.

Ceasing to drink alcohol following diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis is a key mitigating step to implement. Ceasing to drink alcohol will halt further damage to your pancreas and in some cases arrest the development of the condition into retreat.

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