Physicians describe the pancreas and the role it plays in the body. They describe the pancreas as the organ responsible for the secretion of enzymes to aid in the digestion of food and for the production of the hormone, insulin, which aids in the absorbing of nutrients from the blood.
Physicians describe what acute pancreatitis is and how it is more prevalent in children than was previously understood. They mention that acute pancreatitis is typically reversible and symptoms usually go away with time.
Physicians discuss how acute pancreatitis in children can stem from numerous factors, including those children who may have a systemic illness, viral infection, or trauma. Other causes they discuss may include being due to medication, a metabolic issue, or even abnormal kidney functioning. Genetic risk factors such as a family history of the disease, as well as environmental factors can also be responsible.
Physicians discuss how a child's first attack of acute pancreatitis can originate from a range of causes, which unlike adult cases is typically due to two major causes. They note that doctors look at all of the possible risk factors when dealing with children, in order to help prevent future episodes of acute pancreatitis.
Physicians discuss how the symptoms of acute pancreatitis can be quite non-specific and can make it challenging to diagnose. They discuss how symptoms can range from abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, jaundice, and irritability but how such symptoms will differ depending on the age group of the child.
Physicians discuss how the course of acute pancreatitis in children can be quite variable, ranging from a week or less in some instances, and up to 2 weeks in more rare cases. They mention that if the symptoms are severe, the child may require hospitalization for however long the symptoms last.
Physicians discuss how symptoms of acute pancreatitis may resolve in children, but that up to 1/3 of these children could still experience another attack and families need to be aware of this. They note that symptoms of a subsequent attack may or may not necessarily resemble those from a previous attack.
Physicians discuss the types of complications that may arise in children with acute pancreatitis. These can involve the accumulation of fluid - either around the pancreas or within the left-side of the chest - and the draining of that fluid to prevent the issues that can arise if left untreated. They note that while kidney failure is rare in children, physicians need to monitor for it.
Physicians discuss how acute pancreatitis is diagnosed in patients who meet at least 2 of the 3 following criteria: 1) displaying the typical symptoms of pancreatitis; 2) having elevated blood levels of the enzymes lipase or amylase; and 3) having findings of pancreatitis from ultrasound or CAT scans.
Physicians discuss about "supportive care" as a treatment option for acute pancreatitis in children. As there is no cure for acute pancreatitis, they describe supportive care as providing children with therapies to aid them with getting through their illness. Methods for managing pancreatitis in children (such as IV therapy, pain medication, and fasting for blood work) have changed over time, with families being able to treat mild episodes of acute pancreatitis at home while remaining in close communication with their physicians.
Physicians discuss about how recurring episodes of acute pancreatitis may be prevented by first aiming to isolate the cause and removing it to see if that resolves the issue. They explain how in cases where no cause can be found, different treatment regiments, such as pancreatic enzyme supplementation, antioxident cocktails, or a low-fat diet, may be recommended, although neither of these may be more effective than no medication. Despite this, physicians remain committed to understanding and finding a solution to cases where there is no obvious cause of acute pancreatitis.
Physicians discuss whether families should consider special diets, supplements, vitamins, or medications for their child following recovery from acute pancreatitis in order to prevent future episodes from recurring. They describe that most children will be able to, and should, return to their regular diet, supplements, and medication prior to having had their episode. In rarer and more severe cases however, they recommend a low-fat diet for a week or so. At present, there is no clear evidence of any specific diet, vitamins, or medications that will prevent future episodes of acute pancreatitis.
This educational activity has been developed by:
The National Pancreas Foundation and Mechanisms in Medicine Inc.
This educational activity is supported by:
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