Chronic pancreatitis is quite a common medical condition out there. Although it can be caused by a lot of factors, there are cases in which the causes behind its development are idiopathic. Basically, this disease is related to a severe inflammation of the pancreas which becomes permanent in the case of those who develop the chronic type of pancreatitis.
Since the function of the pancreas is to secret certain hormones and certain digestive enzyme, there are a lot of other medical conditions that can develop as a result of chronic pancreatitis. These medical issues include malnutrition, weight loss and even diabetes (especially because the pancreas also secrets insulin).
Chronic Pancreatitis: Causes and Symptoms Explained
One of the main cause that leads to the development of this medical condition is related to alcoholism. Alcoholics tend to develop chronic pancreatitis more often than those who do not drink and it is believed that if someone has two or more bouts of pancreatitis due to an alcohol intake, the chances of him/her developing this medical condition at a chronic level are higher.
However, alcoholism is not the only cause behind the development of this disease, since non-alcoholic people can develop it as well.
For instance, there are persons out there who start developing this disease due to a genetic inheritance and persons who develop it due to trauma. Furthermore, tumors, gallstones or scars from prior surgeries can also lead to chronic pancreatitis when they block the duct that leads the enzymes out of the pancreas. High blood triglyceride levels and smoking are important risk factors to keep in mind as well.
On the other hand though, there are people who develop this disease for no apparent reasons and diagnosing the exact cause for these people can be difficult. Moreover, there are patients out there who develop this type of inflammation as a result of an auto-immune response of their bodies that start creating anti-bodies which attack their own pancreas.
When it comes to the symptoms patients with this disease show, upper abdominal pain is the most poignant one. This pain can be experienced either on a daily basis or it can be recurrent and it can be very severe. As more of the pancreas is destroyed, less pain will appear but other medical conditions may develop.
In addition to pain, weight loss is another sign of chronic pancreatitis, especially when it happens without any apparent reason. There are two main reasons for which people with chronic pancreatitis start losing weight: the food they ingest is not properly absorbed into their body (which leads to malnutrition) or the food they ingest causes them severe abdominal pain (which in its turn prevents the patients from eating or having any trace of appetite). Diabetes develops as a long-term effect of chronic pancreatitis precisely because the levels of insulin can run out of control. Although both of these medical conditions can be treated, this will be a long-term process.
The Chronic Pancreatitis Treatment and the General Prospectus
Chronic pancreatitis is a permanent affection and it cannot be actually “cured”. Patients who suffer from it can learn to manage it with the help of medication though and in most of the cases they can go back to living a normal life. However, this is related a lot to their dietary decisions and to whether or not they will quit drinking.
The treatment of chronic pancreatitis includes medicine that treats each separate main symptom of this disease. Thus, pain killers will more than likely be prescribed, but their type depends on the severity of the pain experienced by the patient. Thus, someone with a mild pain will be able to relieve himself/herself with the help of normal pain-killers (such as ibuprofen).
Someone with a severe pain though may have to be prescribed with narcotic medications.
In addition to pain management drugs, the patient will most likely be prescribed with pills that will help him/her improve the absorption of the nutrients in the body and, if Diabetes develops as well, drugs that help with the treatment of this co-morbid disease.
To answer the question posed in the title, you could say that no, chronic pancreatitis does not always get worse. However, if you eat products rich in fats or if you continue drinking, the pain and the other symptoms associated with this disease can worsen even more and you may have to be hospitalized on a regular basis. In the end, every person reacts differently to this disease and all the patient can do is to avoid those things that will most definitely worsen his/her condition.