Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Stop the Inflammation of the Pancreas

Inflamed PancreasSomeone recently came to this site, Living With Pancreatitis, looking for information on 'How to Stop the Inflammation of the Pancreas'.

This is probably one of the most important questions a person suffering from chronic pancreatitis could ask. The question delves at the root of the problem. Without dealing with the inflammation itself it is probably not possible to keep the pain and related problems of the pancreas under control.

Aspirin and Pancreatitis
I try to deal with pancreatitic inflammation head on. I don't take painkillers because painkillers mask the pain which would allow you to continue causing and creating the pain without realizing it which can make the problem much worse even throwing the system into a state of acute severe pancreatitis leading to
hospitalization or worse. Therefore, painkillers are bad and not a friend to my pancreas.

When the pancreas is tender, sore or inflamed you know it. You can feel it. Therefore, start looking at the foods you've eaten recently (about an hour and a half ago) and if you've been eating some richer foods over the course of a longer period, perhaps a
few days, that could create pancreatic pain and vulnerability as well.

If there is a lot of stress in your life you might try to reduce the stress levels immediately. I had a very bad pancreatic episode a several months ago which took a couple months to recover from.
The pancreatic attack resulted from high stress levels as well as poor eating habits.

When I say I try not to take painkillers when the pancreas hurts I am mostly referring to over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Advil and Asprin. I don't generally go to the doctor and am known for not filling narcotic prescriptions so do note that I am referring to a total lack of absence both over-the-counter and prescription when it comes to taking painkillers for

Many doctors seem to favor morphine and other hardcore narcotics for pancreatitis. Perhaps the
reasoning is that people with chronic pancreatitis don't live long so who cares if they become addicted?

This is not my train of thought. First off, I'd like to live as long as possible. Masking the pain will probably kill me a lot sooner. So no painkillers for pancreatitis. Besides, they simply don't work as well as addressing the pain head on and making it go away through food intake and lack

Ginger the Anti Inflammatory
One day, I ate some ginger and almost immediately noticed a decrease in swelling in my pancreas. Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory.

I love steak! But too much steak will inevitably hurt my pancreas and yet I really don't want to eat a 4 ounce portion of steak. I want more! Therefore, I now add a very substantial amount of freshly cut up ginger to the leanest meat I can find.

While these are solid solutions for decreasing the risk of pancreatic inflammation these solutions aren't going to work if your pancreas is already swollen.

For a currently swollen pancreas. Ginger is good. Feel free to have a little ginger tea. Or buy the pink marinated ginger in a jar which can generally be found in the Asian Cooking section or near the fresh seafood section of the grocery store. I eat it by itself. Honey also tastes great and seems to calm my pancreas and fill me up when my pancreas is inflamed.

There are times when food is simply not a reasonable option. Honestly, not eating probably won't
Dried Apricots and Pancreatitis
hurt you for a day or two or even longer. That being said, I can easily fall into a routine of not eating and have found that since I often don't eat a lot anyway I need to watch my potassium levels. Potato chips, tomato juice, dried apricots, lima beans and raisins are all very high in potassium. A couple chips here, a few dried apricots there, an ounce or two of tomato juice and a few raisins will probably keep your potassium levels high enough to keep you out of a danger zone (kidney and heart problems seem to be the most prominent issues related to low potassium levels from my personal experience).

So remember, while no food really makes the pancreas feel much better there are some very scary side effects which are unacceptable. Therefore, if food hurts and you need to allow your
pancreas to heal but you're at home and able to eat a little try foods that can benefit the
pancreas and the overall health of the endocrine system while you are healing.

I've had to switch to a fat free diet. I love fatty foods. LOVE THEM! I like fatty steak, half and half. Rich is good! Well.... no. Actually, rich is no longer good and that is no longer a motto that works for me.

Honestly, I feel a lot better and can eat more regularly and more like a normal person when I simply keep fat out of my diet. Fatty foods are incredibly hard on the pancreas. By the way, Honey is Fat-Free! Isn't that fabulous!

Broth is good. I like chicken bouillon. Tea. Tapioca pudding. A little yogurt is okay with a few blueberries and a little honey. There are tons of great foods that might suit you when you are working toward stopping the inflammation of the pancreas.

No meals. Certainly, no big meals. Nibble size meals of yummy foods is good if you're able to eat. At least that has been my experience. No chocolate. I learned this the hard way. Yikes! Sweets just aren't that sweet when then hurt that bad and potentially can send your pancreas into
No Drinking with Pancreatitis
severe inflammation for weeks.

No alcohol. Ever. No exceptions. If this is a problem for you then you are an alcoholic and perhaps might want to take a look at some recovery options or just stop drinking. PERIOD! Remember, people who don't have a problem with drinking don't have a problem with putting the drink down particularly when it's a life threatening issue!

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  1. I had to take pain killers immediately to cope with the pain. One 500mg hydrocodone every six hours from the leftovers I kept. I also went to the pharmacy and picked up Prilosec OTC and a Probiotic. I already had Tylenol PM at home. After checking if I could overlap these I took them and filled up a quart of water abd laid down. The inflammation was still increasing. I learned something from a nurse friend of mine, and from a massage therapy school. Very light clockwise circular motions around the belly area actually move gas/air/food through the digestive track. I laid down on my left side and circled my stomach 20 times. Not much compression, because i didn't want to erupt of dammage andthing already going on. Just hand weigh, very light and slow circular motions. Then I lay down flat and do the same circular motion 100 times, while meditating and feeling the soothing feeling of my hand gliding across my belly area. Then I turned to my right side and circled 20 times to continue the air/gas/food working through its cycle process. Sure enough I can feel in my palm that there were fluids repositioning inside. Then I lay flat again for a couple of minutes or so. Then I stood up, and sure enough I began to burp and flatulate, which is what you want. It meant the decrease of pressure. I did that 7 or 8 times, until the meds kicked in. Then I lay down and take deep breaths and fall into a rest for a couple of hours. The pain does go away for a bit, but you have to get back up and do the same process several times. Monitor your pain killer intakes. I only did that portion a day and a half. However, you will dehydrate from sweating. At first it was increasing in pain when I took in water, but I forcefully did it because I knew that the body parts need flushing and I had to think about saving my kidneys and other parts from shock. Monitor your sweating during the process, and your pee color.
    eventually water won't be a problem, as long as your pancreas isn't reactive to any food in there. It reacts a little to the pain killers and probiotic, but it is temporary till the meds kick in. The a day and a half into the flare-up I was weak and needed nutrition. I remember a friend told me that real lemons settle the stomach. I was confused so I looked up lemons and the pancreas. It actually helps the pancreas release the enzyme instead of letting it eat up inside the pancreas. I also remembered the lemonade diet. 2 tablespoons of pure lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of real maple syrup and a pinch or cayenne pepper. I look them all up and what they do against my pancreas, and it turns out they are beneficial. Add those ingredients to 8oz of lukewarm water and you get your nutrition going. Then I accompanied that with green tea extract. Somehow...someway I have discovered how to get through it better than I have before and sort of mimic what the hospitals do. Certainly not anything to compare to but when you are on your own with it...I did what I had to do. Here it is the third day and I am at least at 85% besides a little tenderness from swelling, and some feelings inside of things adjusting again. Gaseous, but okay

  2. I'm not here to tell anyone else what works or doesn't work. I just share my experience when it comes to pancreatitis and what has worked for me.

    Ginger is an incredible anti-inflammatory. I use it as a tool to decrease the inflammation in my pancreas. My experience has been that it works. I have also found that when I decrease the inflammation the pain level decreases as a result.

    It has been my experience that pain killers mask pain rather than eliminate it. I am not interested in having the problems remain that cause the pain. I want to get to the root of the problem and stop it there. Pain killers don't try to do that. Rather, the goal of pain killers is to keep you from feeling the pain, not for the problem to go away. Therefore, pain killers are not a workable long-term solution for me. I need to control the inflammation so I try to eliminate the things that create inflammation to the pancreas as well as decrease inflammation when it occurs. I find that both of these tactics are my solution for eleviating and eliminating pain related to my pancreas.

    There are many natural remedies for decreasing inflammation. It has been my personal experience that these remedies have been effective in decreasing the inflammation of my pancreas. An easy way to try this to see if it can work for you is to go to a grocery store, buy some pink ginger in a jar, eat some of it and then see if you can feel a decrease in the inflammation of the pancreas. It's that simple.

  3. Adding insulin-dependent diabetes into the mix makes things even more interesting, she cries as her pancreas screams in unison :( I appreciate anything I can read when I feel like this as it makes me feel much less isolated. Thank you. :)

  4. I developed pancreatitis in August 2010 when I was 8 months pregnant with my son. At the time I was 25. I'm not a drinker, but my father had alcohol induced pancreatitis. I was kept in the hospital for 2 weeks. My son was an emergency csection due to my condition.

    Since then it seems every 3-4 months I have attacks. Some are bearable and others are not. As of right now I am having an attack and don't want to go to the hospital because all they do is pump me with dauladid. I'm glad I came across this website. I'm brewing some ginger root tea as we speak and hoping it helps the inflammation. The only reason for my hospital visits was for severe pain relief.

    1. Hi Anon - Thank you for your kind words. I've been where you are now. I found that over time I began to learn what foods or things triggered a flare up. I still get them but I'm better (much better) at getting them under control and I can do it quicker. I think flare-ups cause scarring which, in my opinion, makes things worse quicker and shorten the life span so realizing and fixing the problem is crucial.

      Pain killers mask the problem, in my opinion.

      Once my teenager moved out of the house I began to see a noticeable decrease in the number of flare-ups I experienced. I have periodically been stressed out over other things and have felt my pancreas immediate flare.

      Food and stress are the two main things that inflame my pancreas. Food issues are easier to deal with than stress issues. It can be difficult to learn how to become zen 24/7. I'm assuming it would be very difficult if you had a newborn in the house.

      One part of my regime is to get 8-9 hours sleep each night. A decent night sleep decreases overall stress levels an gives more internal strength. I'm guessing it just sounds insensitive to say that to a new mom but I do find it to be an important step in protecting my pancreas and decreasing the number of flare-ups I experience.

      I also walk a lot. This is something that can be done with a stroller. Walking is an easy exercise that doesn't really stress out the body but keeps it healthy and fit while creating a bit of a buffer against stress.

      Again, thank you for your comment. Many who have commented on this site have spoken about how disheartening it is to go through an attack. If you feel that, you are not alone but it can pass. The flare-ups can become less frequent and you can learn quicker ways to overcome them.

      I always keep pink sushi ginger in the fridge. It's quick and easy and while I will also make tea it can tide me over for the moment.

      I don't know if you take anti-depressants, or not, but I have heard that some of them cause pancreatitis. Just food for thought...

    2. These are all really good types. I have had this pain for a few months now, along with diarrhea. I was diagnosed with IBS but I'm not buying it. The pain is continuous and sounds just like pancreatitis. I went to Lassens today and bought some Aloe Vera juice along with some other anti-inflammatory vitamins and I feel a little better. The hydrocodone and the tylenol were NOT working at all. Reading your posts make me feel less alone. I'm only 31 and have an 11 year old daughter and it's scary to think I have a chronic illness.

  5. I had an attack of acute pancreatitis. They removed my gall bladder because the stones were dropping on the pancreas & were the sourceof the attack.
    I don't drink alcohol or take prescription pain meds, but th doctors seemed doubtful until the lab results came back. 90% of pancreatitis is from these two contributing factors which sucks for those of us who are the 10% re the interrogations when in that kind of pain.
    I went on a low sodium diet with lean meats, fruits, salads. It dropped 12 lbs. Also stepped away from most dairy as that was the cause of the stones.
    I started walking every morning which is really good for lowering stress.
    I am early in this new journey.

  6. A year ago today I had an ERCP done to deal with complications from my gallbladder removal. Ever since then I've had pancreatitis. I was also recently diagnosed with depression. I'm emotionally and physically exhausted from all of the emotional and physical pain. I feel very alone in all of this. I can't get my family to understand what I am going through and be supportive of me. How I feel changes every day. I can't make real plans anymore because I have no idea how I am going to feel from one day to the next. I've lost supposed "friends" bc they think I'm faking it. I'm so done with all of this. My family was very supportive in the beginning but has started acting like I am a huge burden to them. I'm 21 I should be out living my life. I should have graduated from college with my friends yesterday. But instead I've had to take a year plus off from school, my life is on hold and I don't know what to do or who to turn to. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I will try the ginger maybe that will help. But please, any advice would help. I just want to not be in pain. I can't continue to cry myself to sleep anymore. It's too much.