pancreatitis depends on whether you have a sudden
(acute) attack of pancreatitis or you have had the condition for a long time
For acute pancreatitis. You will receive treatment in the hospital to allow the
pancreas to heal. You will receive
intravenous (IV) fluids to replace lost fluids and
maintain your blood pressure. And you will get medicines to control pain until
inflammation goes away.
To help rest
your pancreas, you likely will not be given anything to eat for 3 to 7
gallstones are causing
pancreatitis, you may have a procedure called
endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) to
remove the stones from the
common bile duct. After recovering from pancreatitis,
you may have surgery to remove the
gallbladder . This surgery often prevents future
attacks of pancreatitis. For more information, see the Surgery section of this
For chronic pancreatitis. People who
have chronic pancreatitis also may have episodes of acute pancreatitis, which
are treated the same as an initial episode of acute pancreatitis.
Excessive use of alcohol causes
most cases of chronic
pancreatitis. It is extremely important that you not
drink any alcohol. Drinking even small amounts can cause severe pain and
complications. Drinking large amounts of alcohol when you have chronic
pancreatitis can shorten your life. For more information on quitting alcohol,
see the topic
Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.
If you have
chronic pancreatitis, you may struggle with ongoing pain.
Treatment for pain includes avoiding alcohol, eating a
low-fat diet, using pain medicine, and in some cases taking enzyme pills to
help rest your pancreas.
You may need
surgery or another procedure to widen a narrow pancreatic duct or to remove tissue or stones that
are blocking the pancreatic duct. Surgery can also drain a pseudocyst or an
Your doctor will want to see you every 3 to 6
months to make sure that your pain medicine is helping you and that you do not have complications of chronic pancreatitis. Complications of chronic
pancreatitis may include recurring flare-ups of symptoms, fluid buildup, and
blockage of a blood vessel, the bile duct, or the small intestine. Chronic
pancreatitis also increases your risk of pancreatic cancer.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
In advanced chronic pancreatitis, your body may
not absorb fat. This causes loose, oily, especially foul-smelling stools
(called steatorrhea). You may lose weight as a result, because your pancreas no
longer produces the enzymes you need to digest fat and protein. Pancreatic
enzyme pills can replace lost enzymes.
You may need
insulin if your pancreas has stopped producing enough
If infection develops, you may need antibiotics and you might have
surgery to remove the infected and dead tissue. But surgery is avoided when
possible, because the pancreas is damaged easily.
You may need
surgery if you develop complications from acute or chronic pancreatitis.
Surgery also may be done if there is no infection and your condition has not