- Written by Marcel Gemme C.C.D.C
Alcoholism and Your Pancreas
Anything taken in excess is said to be bad for your health. A classic example is alcohol. Drinking occasionally and moderately is recommended by some experts for it is believed to improve blood circulation. However, drinking too much and frequently, alcoholism, can lead to serious diseases such as heart ailments, memory loss and liver problems. Another organ which is directly affected by alcoholism is your pancreas.
The role of the Pancreas
The pancreas is a small organ, which is a part of the digestive system. It is long, flat and tucked just behind your stomach. Similar to the liver, your pancreas secretes several enzymes and hormones that are important in maintaining balance in your body. One such important hormone is insulin, which processes and regulates the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. In addition, the enzymes produced by the pancreas help in the breakdown of food into its basic components for easier absorption. Any damage to this organ will obviously result to malnutrition.
Chronic Alcohol Abuse
A common side effect experienced due to excessive alcohol drinking or alcoholism, is pancreatitis. This is characterized by inflammation of the pancreas as a result of the enzymes irritating the cells of the organ. Supposedly, the enzymes produced by the pancreas travel out from the organ to the intestine, where it will be activated. However, because of the alcohol, the enzymes are activated while they are still inside the pancreas.
Acute pancreatitis, as its name implies, can occur without warning and last for several days. Untreated pancreatitis will lead to the development of a chronic condition. Formation of scar tissues will lead to the organ’s inability to perform its function properly.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Among the signs of acute pancreatitis that you should look out for include:
- Abdominal pain in the upper region and radiates towards your back
- Abdominal pain which is more severe after meals
- Abdominal pain that is relieved by a curled up position
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tenderness in the abdominal region
On the other hand, symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe abdominal pain
- Steatorrhea or smelly, oily stools
- Breathing difficulties
- Increased heart rate
Surprisingly, it is not recommended for a person diagnosed with pancreatitis to stop drinking abruptly since it could result to seizures. A detoxification schedule will be created, and changes in the diet will be implemented to include more antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits. Such change will provide the pancreas with protection. In addition, medications can also be prescribed as part of the treatment program that could help promote nutrient absorption.