Donate to Pancreatitis Research, Patient Care and Education

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas characterized by redness and swelling. The pancreas is the gland that controls blood sugar by creating digestive enzymes and hormones, and it is located behind the stomach, near the juncture of the stomach and the small intestine. Your continued support of Northwestern Medicine supports various research and treatment initiatives to make life more manageable for those who battle this disease.

Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes created by the pancreas start to attack the pancreas itself, instead of breaking down food that passes through the small intestine.

Pancreatitis is categorized into two types:

  • Acute pancreatitis: a severe, but short-lived, attack that can cause nausea, rapid heart rate, and extreme pain. After the attack subsides, the pancreas returns to normal.
  • Chronic pancreatitis: a long-term condition that reoccurs periodically and causes scarring of the pancreas. More serious cases can interfere with the production of enzymes and insulin.

Pancreatitis has a variety of symptoms that vary from patient to patient and largely depend on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Patients often experience symptoms including severe stomach pain, especially after eating, pain radiating from the back and chest, nausea and vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, jaundice and swelling or tenderness in the upper stomach. Complications from pancreatitis include chronic pain, diarrhea, weight loss, vitamin deficiency, a pseudocyst, or collection of fluid, around the pancreas, diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

There are many possible causes of pancreatitis, but the most common causes are alcohol abuse and gallstones that block the duct exiting the pancreas. Other causes include abdominal injury or surgery, high triglycerides or calcium levels in the blood, the use of certain medications, infection, tumors, genetic defects and congenital abnormalities in the pancreas, a history of smoking and cystic fibrosis.

Your generous donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will assist physicians and patients at Northwestern Medicine in a variety of ways in the diagnosis of pancreatitis. Blood tests can identify the presence of infection as well as calcium and triglyceride levels in the blood. Traditional x-ray imaging can be used as well to indicate the severity of inflammation and gallstones. Physicians may recommend CT scans or other tests according to a patient’s symptoms and initial consultation.

Treatment for pancreatitis generally focuses on reducing inflammation. Treatment usually requires the patient to refrain from consuming food and drink for a few days, and to receive intravenous fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics. Chronic pancreatitis requires an increased management of symptoms, including abstaining from alcohol and quitting smoking, taking enzyme supplements or medication, and in severe cases, undergoing surgery to remove a damaged portion of the pancreas.

Pancreatitis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Donations to Northwestern Memorial Foundation are essential for developing new treatment plans and advancing the existing research for pancreatitis. There are still vast improvements that can be made with respect to treating pancreatitis. Donate today and help make a positive change in the lives of patients with and the treatment of pancreatitis.

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