Pancreas is an important organ that aids in digestion of fats and helps in metabolism of the body by regulating insulin levels. But due to prolonged ailments and disorders like high cholesterol levels, thyroid, and hyperlipidemia, the pancreas can swell. Inflammation of the pancreas is known as chronic pancreatitis. People who consume excessive alcohol are also susceptible to this condition. Since this is a slow progressive condition, the chronic pancreatitis life expectancy is reduced by 10-20 years.
- Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in blood)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertriglyceridaemia (high levels of blood fats)
- Pancreatic cancer
- Hyperparathyroidism (high levels of parathyroid hormone)
- Gallstones (accumulation of bile content in body)
- Alcoholism and excessive smoking
- Severe abdominal pain (just below the ribs)
- Diabetes (a condition which can culminate into a symptom for chronic pancreatitis)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor digestion of fats and vitamins
- Pseudocysts: When there is a blockage in the pancreatic duct, the pancreatic fluid starts to collect as a cyst. Such inflammations can cause discomfort like abdominal pain and vomiting. They can be treated with medicines. In serious cases, this complication can result in intestinal bleeding. Surgical treatments are used to remove the swelling in such cases.
- Bile duct blockage: If there is a blockage in the bile duct, the bile cannot reach the gut and gets diverted into the bloodstream. Bile content in blood is toxic and it can lead to jaundice, which is a major outcome of this complication.
- Pancreatic cancer: Chronic pancreatitis is a major cause for pancreatic cancer. This complication is observed mostly in people who are addicted to chain smoking.
- Kidney disorders: This condition can also result in kidney disorders like kidney failure. Kidney failure could be a cascading complication caused by malfunctioning of pancreas and bile duct blockage. Some rare complications include gut blockage (ascites) and thrombosis (blood clot) in blood vessels of pancreas and spleen.
It has been observed from the statistics that the mortality caused by chronic pancreatitis (considering cases which have survived for 10 years post diagnosis) is about 60-80%. The most prominent risk factors affecting life expectancy are pancreatic cancer, liver damage, and upper digestive hemorrhage. The mortality rate of people suffering from this condition varies between 5-10%. Chronic pancreatitis is not very common in children and infants. If at all children are affected by this condition, it could be because of some traumatic injury in pancreas or due to hereditary factors. Hence, infant mortality rate is not a much known fact.
Abusing alcohol and smoking excessively are two major factors responsible for reducing the life expectancy. Both alcoholism and smoking can sabotage a healthy pancreas and liver, both of which are primarily responsible for metabolism in the body. Doctors strictly advise against consumption of alcoholic beverages if a person is diagnosed with this condition. A low fat diet supplemented with a lot of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fruits is recommended, as this disorder is also caused by malabsorption of fat content. Pancreatic supplements like pancreatin are given to the patient to reduce the effects and also reduce the acid secretion by stomach for digestion. Antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium also aid in the treatment of this condition thereby, increasing the life expectancy of the patient. And last but not the least, drink a lot of water. Chronic pancreatitis causes dehydration of pancreas. Hence consumption of water is a must for a healthy pancreas. All these measures can help in increasing the life expectancy. So if you want to get rid of pancreas problems and dream of exceeding a normal life expectancy of a human, say a big NO to alcohol abuse and smoking!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.