Pancreatitis: An alcohol-related pain problem

The pancreas is responsible for producing digestive juices to break down foods, and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Located behind the stomach, the pancreas is a small organ that people often pay little attention to. Unfortunately, pancreatitis is a detrimental health problem that can be caused by alcoholism.

At Site of United States, our providers work with patients to help manage painful conditions and offer tools to live healthier lives. Alcohol Awareness Month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean that the problem is any less of a problem. Site has taken the initiative to provide patients with information about excessive alcohol consumption, common complications, and the ways it can affect their pain condition. With 15 locations across the valley, Site is the leading pain practice in the state and in the southwest United States.

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Pancreatitis can develop as an acute or chronic problem. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it can be treated immediately to reduce symptoms. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Pancreatitis becomes chronic if the inflamed pancreas stays that way. Symptoms of this chronic condition are recurring, severe pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and back pain.

Acute and chronic pancreatitis can develop as a response to heavy drinking. One theory that scientists believe is that molecules in alcohol manipulate the cells of the pancreas, which ceases proper function. In the end, the more you drink, the higher your risk of having this problem. If chronic pancreatitis is not treated, gallstones can develop and attribute to pancreas complications.

According to the NHS, 50 percent of people with recurring pancreatitis will develop diabetes. This happens because the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin that is needed to regulate blood sugar levels. Pseudocysts are fluid sacs that can form on the surface of the pancreas and are another complication that can develop if your condition is not treated. Pseudocysts may cause bloating, abdominal pain, and indigestion.

Pain is an inevitable symptom that people will encounter if they continue to drink alcohol in unhealthy amounts. The NHS says that two-thirds of people who develop pancreatitis have a history of heavy drinking. To combat the risk of developing pancreatitis, people can follow the government’s drinking guidelines to control drinking habits. Keep track of your drinks and recruit friends to help with moderation. Consider talking to a therapist to develop strategies that can help you slow down your drinking.

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