This is a medical emergency marked by acute abdominal stress. Symptoms are caused by spillage of pancreatic fluids into the abdominal cavity. These fluids contain enzymes which begin to digest and destroy the lining of the intestine and the intestinal wall itself as well as any internal organs it encounters. Pain typically radiates from the pit of the abdomen through to the back with nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, and shock. Some patients exhibit none of these save shock. There may be evidence of intra-abdominal bleeding.
Causes include direct trauma, overindulgence in alcoholic beverages, viral and bacterial infections, duodenal ulcer perforation into the pancreas, certain metabolic insults, and toxicity from some pharmacological drugs.
The diagnosis is made by ultrasound with supporting evidence from elevated pancreatic enzyme levels (amylase and lipase).
These people usually have elevated white cell counts.
Acute pancreatitis is a medical emergency and must be treated in a hospital setting. In addition to the usual management
doctors in nutritional medicine have noted that intramuscular selenium followed by repeat doses 24 hours later, then daily
doses are useful in the management of this disorder. Only doctors who practice nutritional medicine have a clue about the use
of selenium for this indication. In the acute stage of acute pancreatitis the patient should have nothing by mouth, intravenous feeding should be instituted, calcium and magnesium levels maintained, pain managed, and the cause of the disorder treated. This may involve surgery.
Chronic pancreatitis may result from one or more bouts of acute pancreatitis and this condition is marked by radiologic
evidence of calcification of the pancreas, passage of undigested fat in the stool, diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, and poor digestion due to loss of pancreatic enzymes. Also a cyst-like condition may develop requiring surgery.