Initial treatments in the hospital may include:

  • Fasting. You'll stop eating for a couple of days in the hospital in order to give your pancreas a chance to recover.

    Once the inflammation in your pancreas is controlled, you may begin drinking clear liquids and eating bland foods. With time, you can go back to your normal diet.

    If your pancreatitis persists and you still experience pain when eating, your doctor may recommend a feeding tube to help you get nutrition.

  • Pain medications. Pancreatitis can cause severe pain. Your health care team will give you medications to help control the pain.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids. As your body devotes energy and fluids to repairing your pancreas, you may become dehydrated. For this reason, you'll receive extra fluids through a vein in your arm during your hospital stay.

Once your pancreatitis is under control, your health care team can treat the underlying cause of your pancreatitis. Depending on the cause of your pancreatitis, treatment may include:

  • Procedures to remove bile duct obstructions. Pancreatitis caused by a narrowed or blocked bile duct may require procedures to open or widen the bile duct.

  • A procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) uses a long tube with a camera on the end to examine your pancreas and bile ducts. The tube is passed down your throat, and the camera sends pictures of your digestive system to a monitor.

    ERCP can aid in diagnosing problems in the bile duct and pancreatic duct and in making repairs. In some people, particularly the elderly, ERCP can also lead to acute pancreatitis.

  • Gallbladder surgery. If gallstones caused your pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
  • Pancreas surgery. Surgery may be necessary to drain fluid from your pancreas or to remove diseased tissue.
  • Treatment for alcohol dependence. Drinking several drinks a day over many years can cause pancreatitis. If this is the cause of your pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend you enter a treatment program for alcohol addiction. Continuing to drink may worsen your pancreatitis and lead to serious complications.

Additional treatments for chronic pancreatitis

Depending on your situation, chronic pancreatitis may require additional treatments, including:

  • Pain management. Chronic pancreatitis can cause persistent abdominal pain. Your doctor may recommend medications to control your pain and may refer you to a pain specialist.

    Severe pain may be relieved with options such as endoscopic ultrasound or surgery to block nerves that send pain signals from the pancreas to the brain.

  • Enzymes to improve digestion. Pancreatic enzyme supplements can help your body break down and process the nutrients in the foods you eat. Pancreatic enzymes are taken with each meal.
  • Changes to your diet. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian who can help you plan low-fat meals that are high in nutrients.
Oct. 12, 2016
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