Inflammation of the pancreas

Inflammation of the pancreas

The pancreas produces the hormone insulin and essential digestive enzymes in the upper abdomen. The pancreas is often heavily burdened by lavish food and stimulants. This can lead to acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Targeted measures help keep the most essential digestive glands in the body healthy. This can be done with enzyme therapy and long-term dietary changes.

The function of the pancreas and bile

Many people probably think of diabetes first when they talk about the pancreas. The vital hormone insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism, is produced here. But the flat, 18-centimetre-long organ, also called the pancreas in medicine, does much more. Daily, it produces about 1.5 litres of enzyme secretion, mainly required to digest fats and proteins.

The enzyme secretion enters the duodenum through a glandular duct, where the bile duct also flows. So that the glandular tissue is not also digested, the secretion only contains precursors of the enzymes, which are only activated in the intestine. They split the food components into small molecules that can enter the bloodstream via the intestinal mucosa.

About 98 per cent of the glandular tissue produces digestive secretions; the remaining cells produce the hormone insulin and its antagonist glucagon. These hormone-producing cells lie like tiny islands in the glandular tissue and are called islet cells. While the enzymes go to the intestines, the hormones are released directly into the bloodstream.


Joint suffering: inflammation of the pancreas

In Germany, around 100,000 people suffer from a disease of the pancreas, primarily acute or chronic inflammation. And the number of patients is increasing. Common causes are our lifestyle, overeating fat and increasing alcohol consumption. Gallstones or hereditary factors are more rarely responsible.

Acute pancreatitis

Acute pancreas inflammation often becomes noticeable the day after a heavy meal. For example, fatty sausages or bacon and many other things from the grill put a lot of strain on the pancreas. Often, in connection with sugared drinks or alcohol, the pancreas reports severe, spasmodic symptoms.

Patients with acute inflammation of the pancreas report extreme pain that pierces their back or encircles their entire body like a belt. Symptoms last for hours or days and get worse with food or after drinking alcohol. At the same time, many patients complain of nausea, vomiting or fever.

The severe pain usually leads the patient directly to the hospital. Here, they are initially given painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. The vital nutrients are supplied via a gastric tube or intravenously to protect the pancreas.

Once the inflammation subsides, the patient can gradually eat solid food. In most cases, the symptoms will soon go away with the help of the medication. Surgery may be necessary if gallstones block the gland duct. In any case, an acute inflammation of the pancreas must be taken seriously, as damage to the tissue can remain, impairing sugar metabolism or digestion in the long term.


Persistent inflammation is dangerous.

Permanent inflammation of the pancreas, which often goes unnoticed, is particularly insidious. The damaged tissue releases enzymes that can attack neighbouring organs long before the first symptoms appear. Some patients experience dull aches that can last weeks or even years. Fever, nausea, and flatulence sometimes occur. Because digestion is impaired, many patients lose weight despite not eating less.

Enzymes relieve the gland.

The doctor can determine whether there is an inflammation of the pancreas through blood and stool tests. Changes can also be detected with ultrasound or computed tomography. A reflection shows whether gallstones block the gland duct.

In addition to painkillers, the patient is usually given pancreatic enzymes, which help with digestion and relieve the pancreas. If the insulin-producing cells are affected by the inflammation, the sugar in the body can no longer be sufficiently absorbed into the cells. In this case, diabetes mellitus can develop.

Pancreatitis and Diet

But a lot can also be done preventively for the pancreas. Enzymes can be administered medicinally, but the most essential thing is lifestyle. Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation. It is taboo if the gland is already diseased.

There is no special pancreas diet, but fats should always be used sparingly. A healthy, wholesome diet that includes natural foods helps the pancreas.


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