Vitamins and minerals
Patients having chronic pancreatitis are at a high risk of malnutrition because of malabsorption & depletion of nutrients and also because of increased metabolic motion. Malnutrition is further affected by alcohol abuse & pain after meals. Vitamin deficiency due to malabsorption could result in osteoporosis, abdominal pain, digestive issues & other symptoms.
Hence, patients having chronic pancreatitis should be tested actively for nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin therapy shall be done on the basis of annual blood tests. Generally, calcium, multivitamins, folate, iron, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B12 & vitamin A can be supplemented on the basis of results of the blood tests.
Risk of diabetes
Chronic pancreatitis leads the pancreas to slowly lose its ability to work properly & eventually, the endocrine function would be lost too. Hence this puts a patient at risk of type 1 diabetes. Therefore, the patient should avoid simple carbohydrates and refined sugar.
If the pancreatic enzymes have been prescribed, it is very important to take them timely for prevention of flare-ups. Healthy pancreas gets stimulated for release of pancreatic enzymes, when the undigested food approaches small intestine. The enzymes join along with the bile & start breaking the food down in small intestine. Since a suffering patient’s pancreas does not function optimally, he may not be getting pancreatic enzymes he needs for the proper digestion of food. Taking enzymes could assist in digestion of food, therefore, improving the signs & symptoms of steatorrhea or fat malabsorption. In turn, this would improve our ability to eat better and lower the risk of malnutrition.
If alcohol was the cause of pancreatitis one should immediately quit. If the other reasons of acute pancreatitis are addressed & resolved (i.e. via a gallbladder removal) & the pancreas are restored to normal condition, the patient shall be able to live a normal life, however, they should avoid alcohol. In the situation of chronic pancreatitis, there is an ongoing inflammation & malabsorption. Patients slowly lose their ability to digest food properly & consequently also lose the insulin function. Hence, taking alcohol is harmful for such patients.
Individuals having pancreatitis should quit smoking because it raises the risk of pancreatic cancer.