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Earlier this week, Travis Barker, the longtime Blink-182 drummer and husband of Kourtney Kardashian, was wheeled from his Los Angeles mansion on a stretcher to a local hospital after being diagnosed with pancreatitis. Barker’s pancreas became inflamed after a colonoscopy procedure.
The musician’s health scare has left many wondering what pancreatitis is and how to treat it. According to the Mayo Clinic, pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, a flat gland behind the stomach in the upper abdomen, becomes inflamed. The pancreas is vital for the body to process sugar through digestion and hormones. The pancreas becomes inflamed when these digestive fluids attack the organ instead of regulating the body’s blood sugar levels.
Acute pancreatitis is a mild form of the condition that occurs suddenly and for only a short time. However, chronic pancreatitis is long-lasting and can lead to death without proper medical care. Chronic can appear randomly over the course of many years and cause serious discomfort in the body.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms for people differ depending on the type of pancreatitis. The acute version causes pain in the upper abdomen, abdominal pain throughout the back, tenderness when touching the abdomen, fever, rapid pulse, nausea and vomiting.
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However, chronic pancreatitis is more life-threatening and can cause more severe damage to the body. Common symptoms include upper abdominal pain, abdominal pain that increases after digestion, unexplained weight loss, and oily, foul-smelling stools, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is recommended that people make an appointment with their doctor for acute or chronic abdominal pain and seek immediate care if the pain caused by pancreatitis prevents them from sitting or lying still.
What are the causes?
When digestive enzymes are activated, pancreatitis occurs from irritated cells in the pancreas, causing the organ to become inflamed. Some habits and conditions that cause pancreatitis include alcoholism, abdominal injuries, obesity, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, and gallstones. Also, untreated acute pancreatitis can become chronic, leading to digestive problems and diabetes.
Other factors, such as a family history of pancreatitis, heavy use of cigarettes, and alcohol use, can increase a person’s risk of pancreatitis.
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How do you treat it?
Depending on an individual’s condition, medical professionals will ovulate and treat the underlying cause of pancreatitis differently in some cases. However, some early treatments include slimming down your daily diet to allow your body to recover. Doctors may also prescribe pain relievers to patients suffering from pancreatitis if the condition is severe. If a person is admitted to a hospital, intravenous (IV) fluids will be injected through a vein in the arm to prevent dehydration until the pancreas recovers.
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