It’s only between six and eight inches in length, but for such a small organ, the pancreas is extremely important. That’s because it plays a role in the digestive process, producing insulin and other enzymes and hormones that help with digestion. The pancreas is located in the left side of the abdomen near the spleen. Every year around 275,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for a condition called pancreatitis. It’s a condition that can strike at any age, and it can be very painful. Knowing more about pancreatitis can help you to recognize it in your aging relative so that they can get help quickly.
Two Kinds of Pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. Sometimes the condition is mild and can go away without intervention. However, sometimes it is severe and may even cause complications that can be life-threatening.
There are two kinds of pancreatitis:
- Acute: Acute pancreatitis comes on suddenly and only lasts a short time. It can be either mild or severe. Severe cases can result in damage to the pancreas, such as bleeding, tissue damage, cysts, and infection. It can also cause damage to other organs in the body, like the heart, kidneys, and lungs.
- Chronic: Chronic pancreatitis is when inflammation of the pancreas goes on for a long time. It usually happens after a person suffers a bout of acute pancreatitis. It can also be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
Pancreatitis Risk Factors.
Some people are more likely to get pancreatitis because of certain factors, called risk factors. Some of the risk factors for pancreatitis are:
- Gender: Men are affected by pancreatitis more often than women.
- Race: African Americans are more likely than other races to get pancreatitis.
- History: Those with a family history of pancreatitis are at increased risk.
- Gallstones: People who have had gallstones or who have family members that have had gallstones are more likely to get pancreatitis.
Some health conditions also increase the chances of getting pancreatitis, such as:
- High triglycerides.
- Some autoimmune conditions.
The symptoms of pancreatitis depend on the kind a person has. Acute pancreatitis symptoms are:
- Pain in the upper abdomen.
- Pain in the abdomen that gets worse after eating.
- Fast pulse.
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Stools that are oily and have a foul odor.
If your aging relative is at risk for pancreatitis, a senior care provider can help watch for signs of the condition. During a bout of acute pancreatitis, a senior care provider can prepare foods that are easier to digest. Senior care providers can also drive older adults to their medical appointments and remind them to take medications the doctor may prescribe for pancreatitis.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Danville, CA, contact the caring staff at Provident Home Care. Call today (877) 572-3411.
Robin Conley RN., Owner and CEO of Provident Care Home Care Providing HOME CARE- ASSISTED LIVING PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
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