The Pancreas is an organ that is part of both the digestive system and the endocrine system, it measures approximately 15 cm in length, is made up of 3 parts (Head, neck and tail) and is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach and the proximal part of the small intestine or Duodenum.
The pancreas has exocrine functions, that is, it produces substances that do not pass into the bloodstream, such as digestive juices and enzymes, which help during the digestion process so that in this way food can pass to the small intestine and nutrients are absorbed easier way.
In addition to this, it has endocrine functions, that is, this organ is capable of sending hormones directly to the bloodstream, such as insulin and glucagon, which regulate glucose or sugar levels in the blood.
For various reasons, the structure and functionality of the pancreas can be affected, causing a wide range of diseases, including chronic pancreatitis.
The chronic pancreatitis, may be defined as a chronic inflammatory disease of the pancreas, which causes fibrosis or scarring of the organ and the loss of functional tissue, involved in phases advanced to the alteration of exocrine functions and endocrine described above.
Causes of chronic pancreatitis
There are multiple causes that possibly by different mechanisms lead to chronic pancreatitis, based on this fact the TIGAR-O classification was proposed where each letter is the initial of the different etiologies
It is the most frequent cause because 70 to 90% of chronic pancreatitis are the result of the abuse of alcohol consumption. This category also includes tobacco, hypercalcemia (elevation of calcium levels in the blood) and chronic kidney disease as etiological agents, because in this disease, toxic substances cannot be adequately eliminated from the body.
It is one that occurs without any apparent cause, that is, its origin is unknown and usually manifests during the first 20 years of life or late during the 40 or 50 years of life.
· Genetics: due to mutations present in the DNA of the individual who suffers it.
· Autoimmune: the immune system of the individual immeasurably "attacks" the pancreas, usually in tissue studies of people with this condition, abnormal accumulations or infiltrates of immune cells can be observed.
· Recurrent: this group of patients develops the disease, due to multiple episodes of acute pancreatitis in the past, which could lead to the chronicity of the disease.
· Obstructive: due to obstruction to the drainage of pancreatic secretion, with dilation of the pancreatic ducts.
In general, all the aforementioned causative agents lead to the activation of different cells and mediators of inflammation, which through different mechanisms are capable of producing inflammation and fibrosis or scarring of pancreatic tissue.
Symptoms and signs of chronic pancreatitis
Some of the following signs can give warning signs of a possible chronic pancreatitis problem.
Located in the upper part of the abdomen, in the region known colloquially as “Boca del stomach”, it extends towards the back and to the sides (belt pain) . It usually manifests itself after food intake.
Nausea, heaviness, bloating or bloating, stomach pain, burning, and flatulence after eating food.
Fetid stools with the presence of fat, due to the lack of secretion of pancreatic enzymes necessary for the proper digestion of fats.
4. Weight loss
It is one of the late symptoms of chronic pancreatitis, this can be caused by a decrease in food intake due to gastrointestinal discomfort that occurs when doing so, by poor digestion in these patients or by nutritional deficits caused by smoking and chronic alcoholism.
5. Hyperglycemia and diabetes
It is one of the unspecific symptoms or signs of pancreatitis, but it is common for elderly people with this pathology to debut in this way.
Other symptoms of pancreatitis are fever, vomiting, rapid heart rate among others.
Serious consequences or complications can occur, such as:
· Infections, as the tissue becomes vulnerable and prone.
· Pancreatic pseudocysts, which are small pockets or collections of fluid and substances that, when ruptured, can cause bleeding.
· Diabetes, due to damage to insulin-producing cells.
· Malnutrition, due to the decrease in the production of pancreatic enzymes, which are essential for the absorption of nutrients.
· Chronic pancreatitis has long been considered the main risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer, which has an accelerated evolution and is considered one of the most aggressive.
If you present any of these symptoms, be sure to visit your trusted doctor. Chronic pancreatitis is a condition that will always accompany you, so you must treat it early and properly.
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