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How is pancreatitis treated?

Unless you have a very mild case of pancreatitis that resolves on its own, treatment of pancreatitis will involve hospitalization. In the hospital, you will be given fluids through a needle in your arm. Fluids are necessary to keep you hydrated and flush your body as the pancreas heals itself.

Pain medication and antibiotics will be given to address your pain and fight infection. You may not be allowed to eat for a few days to give your body a break and allow your digestive enzymes to reset to normal. It may also be necessary to change your diet by cutting out alcohol and high-fat foods.

Depending on the cause of your pancreatitis, you may require surgery to address it. Surgery may be necessary to remove your gallbladder, unclog ducts, and remove damaged tissue.

In acute pancreatitis, reducing the flow of pancreatic enzymes by not eating or drinking is necessary, while patients receive intravenous fluids and pain relief. Oxygen may be given, and sometimes a ventilator is needed. In severe cases, if vomiting is uncontrollable, a tube is placed in the stomach to remove fluid and air. If an infection occurs, antibiotics are given, and surgery may be needed to treat bleeding if it occurs. If the kidneys fail, patients will receive dialysis to remove toxins from the blood. When gallstones are a cause of pancreatitis, surgery is usually needed to remove them.

For chronic pancreatitis, physicians will treat the pain and design a diet that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat and in which alcohol is prohibited. They will prescribe pancreatic enzymes to be taken with meals if the pancreas is not producing sufficient amounts. Insulin may also be prescribed if the pancreas is not producing enough due to injury, and surgery may be indicated to remove a damaged section of the pancreas.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.