Pancreatitis

Also known as: Pancreas Disease

Providence Infusion Pharmacy offers a welcome alternative to lengthy hospital stays for medically stable patients requiring injectable therapies. Our highly trained clinical pharmacists and registered infusion nurses work together with physicians to meet the individual needs of patients of all ages.

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that secretes digestive juices into the stomach. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. In many cases, it is caused when the duct that connects the pancreas and gallbladder is blocked by a gallstone. Heavy alcohol use is another major cause. Less common causes can include medicines, trauma, certain medical procedures, viruses, and toxins. Sometimes the cause of pancreatitis cannot be found. Genetic testing is sometimes done in those cases, especially if there is a family history of pancreas disease.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Severe abdominal pain 

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Severe indigestion

  • Racing heart

  • Fever

If the pancreatitis becomes chronic, diarrhea, chronic pain, weight loss, and poor nutrition can result.

At first, pancreatitis may be treated in the hospital. It may be diagnosed by history, exam, blood tests, and sometimes imaging studies. There, fluids and medicines can be provided. The underlying cause of the problem must also be treated to prevent further problems. If gallstones are the cause, you and your healthcare provider can discuss options for treating them. This usually results in gallbladder surgery. Sometimes another test must be done to clear the drainage ducts of a blocked gallstones.  If alcohol is the cause, talk with your healthcare provider about a program to help you stop drinking.

Home care

  • Don't drink alcohol.

  • Rest in bed or sit up in a chair until you feel better.

  • Take medicines as prescribed. If you were given an antibiotic for infection, take it until it is gone, even if you feel better. Let your healthcare provider know if you vomit up your medicine.

Tips for eating and drinking:

  • If instructed, avoid eating or drinking until nausea and vomiting go away.

  • Try sipping clear liquids to prevent dehydration. 

  • When you begin eating again, start with small amounts. Have small, more frequent meals rather than larger meals. Low fat meals are best.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away for any of the following:

  • Continued or worsening pain

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Dizziness, weakness

  • Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Severe muscle cramps

Call 911

Call 911 if you have any of the following:

  • Vomiting blood or large amounts of blood in stool

  • Seizure

  • Loss of consciousness