Gallstone pancreatitis is simply pancreatitis caused by gallstones. While there are a number of ways people get pancreatitis, gallstones are the number one cause today. 20 million adults in the U.S. alone have gallstones but only 10k to to 40k develop gallstone pancreatitis.
The gallbladder and pancreas share a duct which allows enzymes and bile to flow. Gallstones can become lodged in this duct and block the flow of enzymes to the pancreas. Gallstones may also cause infected bile flow into the pancreas. Food allergies have also been linked with gallbladder attacks. Often times people are unaware of these allergies which result in a gallbladder attack later. Some of the most common problem foods include pork, coffee, nuts, eggs, onions, milk, poultry, and beans.
- The 5 F’s. The 5 F’s describe the group most commonly affected by gallstone pancreatitis. They include fair, fat, forty, fertile, and female. Overweight, white women in their forties who have had multiple pregnancies are at the highest risk.
- Diet. Diet plays a very significant role in both managing pancreatitis and causing it. Diets high in fat and processed foods can be very harmful to the pancreas.
- Sudden or constant pain in the upper abdomen.
- The pain can sometimes wrap around your body and be felt in the back.
- Pain that lasts for days
- Pain is relieved by leaning forward
- Pain in the pancreas follows, gradually increasing in intensity
- nausea and vomiting may accompany the increase in pain
- Pain increases or starts after eating
- Gallbadder flush. Flushes are natural methods of eliminating gallstones from the body. To receive continue receiving the benefits, regular flushes are necessary, but can be very effective.
- Gallbladder removal. Typically, removing the gallbladder is not recommended, unless the patient is either diabetic or gallstones have been confirmed AND they are frequent. The only exception to this are patients who have a loss of feeling and less able to feel pain. Diabetics are often less able to feel pain and unable to know when an acute pancreatitis episode or gallbladder attack is present. Not receiving medical attention during an attack can be fatal.
- ERCP should only be considered if there is a bilary obstruction. If there is no obsruction, ERCP will not help and may even cause complications.
- Llaparoscopic cholecystectomy is a treatment that is recommended for mild cases. According to Richard A. Kozarek, a physician at Virginia Mason Medical Center, it is the gold standard for treatment. He believes the ERCP is overused and that L.C. should always be considered first for mild cases.
Gallstone Pancreatitis Diet
The diet for gallstone pancreatitis should be nearly the same as a regular pancreatitis diet. In addition, there are a few foods and nutrients that can help for gallstones. Eating foods with fat can increase the of gallstones. Vitamin c has been shown to help absorb some dietary fat. Your diet should be rich in vitamin c. Also beware of deficiencies. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, there is a link between gallstones and not getting enough vitamin c and e. Psyllium binds to cholesterol and can help prevent gallstones. It also helps with constipation (which can contribute to gallstones).
Other important nutrients include: vitamin b12, methione, choline, choler
- Cholagogues and choleretics (such as milk thistle and dandelion)
- Peppermint oil (which stimulates the flow of bile and is a terpene, which may help dissolve gallstones)