How Do You Treat Pancreatitis?

treat-pancreatitis Credit: Justin Taylor/CC-BY-2.0

Pancreatitis is initially treated in the hospital with fasting, pain medication and intravenous fluids, according to the Mayo Clinic. Once the symptoms are controlled, further treatments deal with the underlying cause of the disease. Actions include removal of bile duct obstructions, gallbladder or pancreas surgery, or alcohol addiction therapy.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, an abdominal gland that aids digestion, the Mayo Clinic explains. Fasting is an important treatment because it allows the pancreas to rest and recuperate. Clear liquids and a bland diet are slowly introduced, but it sometimes takes weeks before a patient resumes a normal diet, reports the Merck Manual. The inflammation causes severe pain, and medications are needed to control it. IV fluids prevent dehydration and provide energy during fasting and the limited diet period, the Mayo Clinic says.

If a narrow or blocked bile duct causes pancreatitis, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is used. This procedure uses a camera on a tube to locate and help remove obstructions in the duct, reports the Mayo Clinic. Gallbladder stones are sometimes at the root of pancreatitis and are removed if found. In certain cases, the pancreas itself must be operated upon to drain fluid or take out unhealthy tissue. Long-term alcohol dependency harms the pancreas, so some patients receive therapy to stop drinking.

With persistent pancreatitis, pain is often treated with long-term medication or surgery to block nerves that relay pain signals, the Mayo Clinic states. Enzyme supplements are sometimes taken at every meal to aid in digestion. Often, patients must switch to low-fat diets.