Chronic pancreatitis may leave you with lifelong signs and symptoms, such as pain and malabsorption of certain nutrients. However, most people with acute pancreatitis recover completely. But even if you experience no lingering symptoms, it's important to take steps to keep your pancreas as healthy as possible:
- Avoid alcohol. If you can't voluntarily stop drinking alcohol, get treatment for alcoholism. Abstaining from alcohol may or may not reduce your pain, but it will reduce your risk of dying of your disease.
- Avoid smoking tobacco. Smoking tobacco exacerbates pancreatitis and might cause pancreatic cancer. If you are a patient of CP you already have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. If you smoke tobacco, your risk for pancreatic cancer is even higher.
- Eat smaller meals. The more you eat during a meal, the greater the amount of digestive juices your pancreas must produce. Instead of large meals, eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Limit fat in your diet. Limiting fat will help reduce loose and oily stools that result from a lack of pancreatic enzymes. Discuss with your doctor or a dietitian how much fat to eat each day because some fat is essential.
- Follow a diet high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give you energy to help fight fatigue. They're present in foods made from starches (complex carbohydrates) or sugars (simple carbohydrates). Try to get most of your daily calories from complex carbohydrates found in grains, vegetables and legumes. If you have diabetes, a dietitian can help you plan an appropriate diet.
- Drink plenty of liquids. If you have chronic pancreatitis, be sure to drink enough liquids so that you don't become dehydrated. Dehydration may aggravate your pain by further irritating your pancreas.
- Find safe ways to control pain. Talk with your doctor about options for controlling your pain, including the benefits and risks of prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers and the use of digestive enzymes.
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