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Old 11-29-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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Pancreatitis-Need advice

Hi. Im a healthy 44 yr old female with no prior GI or ongoing health issues.
This past sunday, at work, I was having severe stomach cramps and was unable to go to bathroom. This went on for two hours, then I went home early had diarrhea, took some immodium and was miserable Overnight, I woke up, unable to pass gas or go to bathroom, even though I needed too. I because very afraid that I had a blockage or something.

I went to ER on monday am, and they ran tests and said my Pancreatic enzymes were high. They kept me in overnight, ran a cat scan, which showed inflammation and colon thickening near pancreas.
Not sure what Lipase levels in ER were, but tues am, they were 1200, and yest am, they were 700.
They did an ultrasound, showed no gallstones, but showed sludge in gallbladder.
I had an MRI last night before being released, as they thought that since they could find no other cause(im not a drinker), that maybe my pancreatic ducts were abnormal. I have heard nothing back yet. So, Im assuming they were normal??

My doctor at hosp was at a loss. Stated that maybe the birth control pills ive been on since july could have been cause, but she said that was a longshot.

I got home last night, had some low fat cereal and milk, and had severe tummy cramps, like the ones over weekend, at about 130am. I took a pain pill which helped.
This am I had an egg and a few potatoes, and no pain yet.

I dont know what to expect. Im afraid to eat. Because they have no clue how I got this, they dont know how to proceed.

Any experience or guidance or input? They didnt seem too concerned about thickened colon walls.

Im just lost on this. Thanks in advance for any help.

 
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:38 AM   #2
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Hi, My GF had stomache pain 2 years ago and when we went to the dr. They said she had pancreatitus. The pain was caused by eating causing the pancreaus to secrete enzymes. They didn't give her anything to eat for a few days to halt the pancreaus and gave her meds to get the inflamation down. Once her levels were normal, she went back on diet and pain went away.

I am no dr but this is what they did. Also, she was a heavy drinker and was told to stop as this caused the inflamation.

 
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:41 AM   #3
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Thats what they did with me. I didnt eat from monday am, til wed am. Clear liquids and all that. On tues, they tried to give me jello and I threw that up. No meds to take inflammation down, which is surprising. What meds would those be?

 
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:43 AM   #4
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

And Im one of the 20% that they dont have an answer for. Not a drinker and no gallstones. What an enigma. My grandmother died from pancreatic cancer, but they said there was no correlation.

 
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:25 PM   #5
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Hi NHChic, I'm not a doctor and I don't have first hand experience with pancreatitis but I do have a couple of thoughts on your case...

Mysterious pancreatitis, in non-drinkers, especially with a family history of disease makes me think of hemochromatosis... A genetic iron overload disease. It usually doesn't show up in females until menstruation has stopped for 5 years or so, but if you take iron supplements this could cause symptoms earlier.

Hemochromatosis often goes mis-diagnosed for many years as it is not too common, although it is the most frequent adult onset genetic disorder in caucasians. It was originally called "bronze diabetes", as high iron can make you tan easily and the pancreas is the first organ that goes haywire. Too much iron is very irritating to the pancreas... If you're taking iron supplements, or "women's vitamins" with iron, I would stop, unless your doc has looked into your iron status and wants you to stay on iron.

Did your adventures in medicine include an iron study? Ferritin? If not, I would want one done. Iron studies are very cheap and your doc shouldn't mind ordering this. Ferritin is a good place to start, and you don't even need a fasting blood draw for a simple ferritin test. The upper limit for ferritin is set quite high, at around 200 for females. It is really more desirable to avoid ferritin over 100. If you're high/normal, this could be causing problems.

If iron is normal, I would look next at polyunsaturated/omega 3 fat consumption. These fats oxidize very easily and can cause problems when they do. Have you taken any fish oil supplements in the past year? Fish oil is particularly susceptible to going rancid; often before you ever take it if the bottle is old or has been opened for more than a month. If you don't supplement vitamin-E when you take fish oil, It can oxidize in your body and cause problems, even if the fish oil is fresh when you take it.

These are just a couple of thoughts... I hope you get to the bottom of this soon. Pancreatitis is nothing to live with. You need to keep working on this until you get it fixed.

Best of Luck to you!

Last edited by BillinSD; 11-29-2012 at 07:33 PM. Reason: addition

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:48 AM   #6
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Well, I dont eat fish, nor do I take fish supplements, so theres no connection there.
However! My mom had hemochromatosis....
She died of cirrohsis in 1985 from drinking, and she did have this disease.
Now, as far as I know, my iron is fine. Ive had lab tests over the years, including several this week and no concerns about my iron level.
Should I be asking other questions?

Very interesting. Im just wondering if I can expect this to happen again. I mean, what is the likelihood? If it will be chronic or a one time thing.
Thanks for the input.

Do you think the sludge has anything to do with it? And should I follow up on the thickening of the colon?

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:50 AM   #7
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Well, I dont eat fish, nor do I take fish supplements, so theres no connection there.
However! My mom had hemochromatosis....
She died of cirrohsis in 1985 from drinking, and she did have this disease.
Now, as far as I know, my iron is fine. Ive had lab tests over the years, including several this week and no concerns about my iron level.
Should I be asking other questions?

Very interesting. Im just wondering if I can expect this to happen again. I mean, what is the likelihood? If it will be chronic or a one time thing.
Thanks for the input.

Do you think the sludge has anything to do with it? And should I follow up on the thickening of the colon?

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:39 PM   #8
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Are you absolutely sure your lab tests included a full iron study? Many doc's don't include iron, especially ferritin in their labs and this is why hemochromatosis often causes so much damage before it is diagnosed.

I would hope to heck iron labs would have been included on a patient with pancreatitis and a family history of hemochromatosis, but somehow many of these patients manage to fall through the cracks.

Also... As I mentioned above, the upper limits for ferritin are often set outrageously high at 200, 300, & I've even seen 400 as the upper limit for men in some lab parameters. Many now believe these upper limits are set too high and some think anything over ferritin of 100 may be unhealthy.

There's really no reason or benefit to having an ocean of stored iron floating around in your blood and tissue, and if your ferritin is well into triple digits and you continue to have problems with your pancreas, this may be something to consider.

Dumping iron is as easy as donating blood, and each blood donation should drop your ferritin by about 30 points. Fair warning... The needle they use at the blood bank is larger than the needle they use to draw labs with. If you can't donate blood due to restrictions at the blood bank, a hematologist can write a prescription for bloodletting or "therapeutic phlebotomy".

I would ask for a copy of your lab work and find the iron results yourself to be certain they were included in your labs and see just how high they actually are. If any of the iron labs are up near the tippy-top of the normal range, I would suspect lowering them might reduce your chances of another encounter with pancreatitis.

Does your doc know your mom had hemochromatosis??? He should!!! And steps should be taken to be sure you don't have it. Particularly since you're having unexplained problems with your pancreas.

Don't let this slide... Follow up with your doc and get to the bottom of this. Undiagnosed hemochromatosis hurts an awful lot of people, but it can't hurt anyone if it's caught in time.

Best Wishes!

Last edited by BillinSD; 11-30-2012 at 02:54 PM. Reason: edit

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:20 PM   #9
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Wow, thank you for all this info. I see my GP for a follow up on friday. I will ask for copies of Labs and request a complete lab on Iron. She knows, but I dont think the hospital doctor knew.

So, are you saying, I could have a general iron test done, and could be perceived as normal? but if ferritin is high, then that could be an issue?
What is an acceptable level? Ill have to do some research.

Who knew? I am grateful you gave me this info.
Ill keep you updated!

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 06:48 PM   #10
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Most GP's don't routinely test for iron unless the patient has symptoms of anemia... Iron studies are not included in most "Basic Metabolic Panels" or even the "Comprehensive Metabolic Panel" doctors typically order for routine blood work.

When they do throw an iron lab into the mix, it's usually serum iron, transferrin saturation or iron binding capacity. These will often be out of range in hemochromatosis, but perhaps not dramatically so. Anemia is typically the problem doctors deal with every day in females, and when a doc sees high readings on these labs, he/she may not think hemochromatosis, but "oh good, plenty of iron; no problem with anemia".

Ferritin measures stored iron, and this is the test that would show dramatic elevation in hemochromatosis. Incredibly, even when this is high/out of range, it doesn't set off alarm bells in many doctors brains unless it's nearly double normal numbers.

If your doc doesn't have any iron labs on you, you might ask if he/she can access the hospital labs that were done. Typically, a hospital admission will get more extensive testing than your doc may routinely do, but alas, ferritin may be ignored here too.

As for an acceptable ferritin level... The newer thinking is generally that 200 is high for females and 300 for males, though some labs still use the old standard of 300 for iron overload in both sexes, and I've even seen 400 as the upper limit for males. In hemochromatosis, most experts say 1000 is the point at which permanent damage often occurs.

There are many different opinions as to how much is too much, but personally, if I had been hospitalized for pancreatitis, and my ferritin was much over 100, and certainly over 150, I'd want it lower. The low end of the normal range for ferritin is usually around 20 before you start becoming anemic, and as long as it is above this, there really is no down side to lower ferritin.

Males tend to store excess iron throughout their adult lives, while in females this normally doesn't start to occur until after menstruation stops. Some believe this is why females tend to outlive males by about half a decade on average. Studies also show blood donors live longer, healthier lives, most likely due to the low iron load in their body.

When it comes to iron... Often, Less is More! Google around on: Iron, too much of a good thing, and you will find several articles on iron with this common title. It's really a fascinating subject.

Last edited by BillinSD; 11-30-2012 at 07:09 PM. Reason: addition

 
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:40 PM   #11
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

wow, lots of good info. I will ask for labs and request new ones done also. I do recall my mom going to hosp all the time to have blood removed. Her liver took a beating with that and alcoholism.
Thanks again! :-)

 
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:19 PM   #12
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

I had my ferritin levels checked in June, went over labs with doctor. She said my ferritin was 17!

 
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:48 PM   #13
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

Great news NH, well we've scratched that off the list...

The only other thing I can think of is regarding your sludgy gallbladder. Increasing bile flow might help to clear it. Bile is made of Lecithin and bile salts... The body recycles bile salts, but needs new lecithin to keep generating new bile. The liver can make new lecithin if it has enough choline, which it usually gets from meat or fish, or from dietary lecithin of which eggs are the best source.

A lot of folks avoid eggs due to the cholesterol, but you might try adding some to your diet for a month or so, or perhaps try a lecithin supplement if your doc OK's this. It's unlikely you are low on bile salts, but Taurine can help your body make more of this, and is a rather cheap and benign supplement if you wanted to throw that into the mix.

Lipid peroxidation can also inflame the pancreas, and vitamin-E is the bodies primary antioxidant for fats/lipids. Many people don't get enough vitamin-E, so you might google around and look at foods high in vitamin-E to see if you're getting enough, or perhaps consider supplementing, again with your doc's approval.

Both lecithin and vitamin-E have excellent risk/reward ratios, and I doubt your doc would object. They shouldn't bother your stomach and have no side effects to speak of. Both are best when taken with your fattiest meal of the day.

I hope this fades into an issue of the past with the new year... Some things just flare up and than vanish as mysteriously as they appeared.

Best of Luck to you, and Stay Healthy!

Last edited by BillinSD; 12-08-2012 at 10:54 PM. Reason: addition

 
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:01 PM   #14
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

I know my brother was diagnosed with pancreaititis in early August of this year. He is a diabetic and he is 37 years old. He stayed in the hospital for over two months. During this time he lost around 90 pounds (he was overweight). He had a feeding tube and he got out of the hospital after two months then had a home health nurse. He ended up going back in the hospital and this is when he had his gall bladder removed. He has been doing much better. However, to be honest, he almost died. He was in a major amount of pain and it is only through a lot of prayers that he made it through. Pancreaititis is nothing to play around with. I wish you well and you are in my prayers.

 
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:17 AM   #15
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Re: Pancreatitis-Need advice

I had severe upper right quadrant pain for 12 years after having my gallbladder removed. Then, last September 2011, I couldn't eat, pain intensified, started having unbearable pancreatic pain (under my sternum), had slightly elevated enzymes, vomiting, nausea, unintended weight loss (135 lbs to 93 lbs). Every test came back normal. Doctors in my area did every procedure and everything was normal. Something was definitely wrong because I ended up with a feeding tube in May! Finally, I went out to the University of Minnesota and had an ERCP w/sphincter of oddi manometry and was diagnosed with sphincter of oddi dysfunction (SOD). SOD is when the sphincter valves that open and close the pancreatic and bile ducts spasm shut. So, the doctor did a sphincterotomy cut into my sphincters, but it didn't work. I just had major surgery--transduodenal sphincteroplasty. For the first time since falling ill last year, my pancreatic pain is lessening and bile is flowing normally. I still have nausea and can't eat many foods, but at least I have a diagnosis after all these years! An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) w/a pancreatic functioning test should be a start in your case.

 
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