and the body traditionally don’t get along. The physical effects of alcohol abuse are well documented, but have you ever thought about the effects of alcohol abuse on your pancreas? The pancreas isn’t high on our list of conversation topics, but it plays a huge role in your physical health. Excess alcohol consumption can cause lasting damage to the pancreas.
Alcohol Abuse and the Pancreas
What does the pancreas do?
The pancreas is located in your abdomen, and it has two primary functions: exocrine and endocrine. Under normal circumstances, the exocrine function produces enzymes that are essential for digestion. When you eat, these enzymes travel to the small intestine, where they help your body metabolize food. The endocrine function consists of cells that create and release certain hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones you may have heard of include insulin and glucagon, which help manage your blood sugar levels.
How does alcohol abuse affect the pancreas?
Alcohol damages the endocrine cells and interferes with the metabolic processes of the pancreas. Instead of dispatching the enzymes to the small intestine, the pancreas gets confused and secretes the digestive juices internally. The problem is that the pancreas isn’t designed to receive the juices, which are harmful to the pancreas. As a result, prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to an inflammation known as pancreatitis.
You may not be aware that you have pancreatitis until you suffer a sudden attack, the symptoms of which include fever, sweating, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, and diarrhea. Pancreatitis can be chronic, especially in cases of ongoing alcohol abuse. It is also a risk factor in pancreatic cancer. Other complications of chronic pancreatitis include reduced pancreatic function, poor digestion, blood sugar problems, and diabetes.
What to do
Roughly 5 percent of people with an alcohol addiction develop pancreatitis. It is unknown exactly which factors lead to the disease. If you develop pancreatitis as a result of alcohol abuse, it can be managed but not cured. Treatment for addiction can reduce the symptoms of pancreatitis, as well as slow its development. Continued alcohol abuse puts a strain on the pancreas, while treatment helps. Remember that it’s never too late to seek treatment. You can start healing your body – and your mind – today.
Treatment for alcohol abuse is for anyone who suffers from addiction, and it works. Could it work for you? Start turning your life around with the support of caring, trained professionals at a clean, comfortable treatment facility. They’re waiting to help.
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