Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Stop a Pancreatic Flare Up

no booze pancreatitis1. Don't drink alcohol (ever again).

This is what I was told when I was admitted to the hospital and where I stayed for 16-days as a result of having an acute severe attack of pancreatitis. I want to stay alive, so I don't drink alcohol at all ever.

2. Stay away from things with calcium.

This is a new one for me. Since I read that the pancreas becomes calcified over time inevitably ending in death, I've decided that things with calcium just don't need to be in my diet at all. This includes daily vitamins which contain calcium, orange juice or any other juice that is calcium fortified, and things like broccoli.

For now, it does not include string cheese. I am addicted. I'm sure I will eventually need to remove it from my diet. Today is not that day. During times of flare-ups, I do not eat string cheese. It is too fatty and hard on my system.
wobenzym n and pancreatitis
3. I take Wobenzym N because it decreases inflammation. Therefore, I think it might decrease the inflammation in my pancreas.

I have no proof that it works. That being said, I always run to it when I feel my pancreas is swollen. I doubt this would be a natural reaction is it wasn't beneficial. Wobenzym N makes me dehydrated. Therefore, I keep water nearby and drink plenty of it. Of course, 'plenty' is a relative term based on what your system can handle. I don't drink as much water (or anything else) as someone might who doesn't suffer from pancreatitis.

clear broth pancreatitis4. I eat less, if at all.

Even if I'm hungry, I know my pancreas cannot heal if I do not let it rest. Chicken Broth is one of my favorites when I'm staying away from food to let my pancreas heal. It fills me up, adds liquids and seems to be rather gentle on my system.

5. I drink coffee.

I don't recommend this. Coffee is known to be a problem for the pancreas. Yet, it cuts down on my need for food and hurts my system less than food would. So, I'm not perfect and I drink coffee. Non-fat half-and-half or non-fat milk is better than milk with fat in it. No milk at all is better. Milk has calcium. Again, I'm not perfect. I just try the best I can.

I generally do the above for a few to several days as the pancreas seems to need this much time to feel better. Yes, I often lose weight during this time. It's not my preference, but it beats the alternatives.

I would love to hear what other people do when they have a pancreatic flare up. Please share your experience and knowledge in this area.

Below are a couple resources which might help:


  1. To all pancreatits sufferers, two glasses of whey protein drinks with rice dream or rice and easy with fat free yougart, mixed berries or banana, blended, anything that contains whole grains, lean chicken, non oily fish, brown basmati rice, brown pasta, mushrooms, celery,garlic fresh ginger, decaf tea and coffee, lots of water, manuka honey,millet flakes in home made soups, jelly,oatly dairy free alternative to cream, oats made with soya milk,cinnomon,and nutmeg,manuka honey,6 small portions per day counting the protein drinks as seedless grapes,high protein, high cabs, low fats, when having a attack no solids only the 2 protein shakes rest the pancreas for a couple off days, had research myself, and sought advise from a nutritionalist. i know everyone is different, and it is expensive to be on this diet, but hey ho,i am not the sufferer but my husband is. i have become his carer. hope this information will be off benifit to some. my husband was fighting his corner for life dec 2010. his last attack lasted 2 weeks.NO ALCHOL EVER.

    1. Thank you very much. I will def try this. I am 23 years old and having been dealing with acute pancreatitis for the past 2 years. I keep going to the doctors and specialists but all they seem to do is give me pain killers. They dont even bother to help me with better eating habits or a list like you have done. I thank you.

  2. Actually Calcium (along with Magnesium) is supposed to counteract glandular disorders, so I take it every day. I got this information from a book I found at whole foods about nutritional healing. It lists Calcium and Magnesium close to the top of the list of nutrients that you should be taking. If avoiding calcium works for you then I'm not saying you should change it, but maybe do some more research about it. Also aloe vera juice is very helpful.

  3. All I know is how my body reacts to multivitamins with Calcium. I know my pancreas is sensitive to it. When I take vitamins I avoid Calcium. It works for me. Surprisingly, my posture isn't worse than before I started avoiding calcium tablets or multi-vitamins with Calcium.

    I'll admit that it could be a coincidence. I'm not a doctor. I just know that I don't want to do things that bother my pancreas so when I can narrow a problem down and eliminate it, I do. For me, it seemed that eliminating vitamins with Calcium was helpful. Quite possibly it is something else in the mix that bothers me. But honestly, I think not. Also, recently I've been taking potassium & magnesium tablets but was thinking of stopping because I began to question if the magnesium was bothering my system.

    The pancreas is part of the endocrine system. And I've had a lot of weak areas related to the endocrine system so if something weakens it I'd rather stay away from it. Therefore, if something is bad for the thyroid but good for the pancreas I'll stay away from it because I want to try things that are good for the whole system, not something that will hurt one thing but help another.

  4. To the poster above: I love the top recipe idea. Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone. As you said, everyone is different so they can take what works for them and leave what doesn't. Each person's system is different. As far as the book goes, it is definitely where I start as well but from there each pancreatic sufferer has to listen to their body and feel it out. Each of us probably has some different trigger points while somethings probably hold true for all of us (too much food in one sitting will hurt the pancreas, too much fatty food, alcohol, etc.)

    Yeah... okay, I just did a check on glandular disorders and have to say I don't see where you are coming from. First off, there are many glandular disorders and while pancreatitis and glandular disorders all seem to stem from the endocrine system I don't see them being one of the same. That being said, as someone who suffers from chronic pancreatitis I do care about other issues within the endocrine system.

    Cultured yogurt seems to be a friend of mine. I like it. It always seems to be a friend of my pancreas. With everything I have to have it in moderation. 6 oz with local honey is about my pace - perhaps not everyday. But that's not milk. There is a big difference. The cultures seem very positive for me. I'm glad you've brought this up because I haven't had yogurt in a while and now I'll definitely put it on my shopping list.

    All I can say, is that what hurts my pancreas is what I stay away from. Calcium doesn't seem to be my friend. Most other things in a multi-vitamin doesn't seem to bother me when I take them independently.

    When it comes to my pancreas I don't take absolute advice from anyone whether it is a doctor, a book, a website, etc. I go by what my body feels and I try to respond to it with respect.

    My philosophy and thought process is that perhaps when my pancreas isn't hurting it is also not as likely to get worse. Therefore, I try to keep it from pain or discomfort. It's a process but since there are no cures and this disease is so incredibly deadly I go with my instinct and trust what my body is telling me.

    My question to you is this: How does your husband react an hour to an hour and a half after having a multi-vitamin or calcium tablet? Is he fine? In discomfort? Is this something you have tracked? Does he take it separately so you can pinpoint it if there is a reaction (discomfort) after taking the Calcium tablet? In general, when not having an attack does he usually have discomfort or not? I ask these questions so I can compare and gauge. If he's pain free I'm more apt to consider this information in a different way then if he's usually feeling discomfort and on painkillers.

    For the record, as of late, I've felt very good most of the time. Almost so good I've wondered if its possible to feel normal (of course that doesn't mean eat like other people - but rather not feel pain or discomfort on a regular basis if I eat quantities that are appropriate for me and foods that don't seem to both me.

    In any case, thanks again for your input and I'd love to hear more about what is and is not working for your husband. He's so lucky to have you there for him. This must be a very difficult process for both of you.

  5. Okay, so I'm just learning about pancreatitis this year and so far I'm getting different suggestions that don't agree with each other. In May 2011, I was hospitialized for acute pancreatitis. At first I thought I had bad acid reflux but when the pain was so bad that I couldn't sleep, I rushed to the hospital and that's when they told me what I had. They did give me an ultrasound to make sure I didn't have any stones (I didn't), so they told me to cut back on the alcohol. Considering that I have been drinking like a fish made it kinda hard but I cut back tremendously and I started drinking wine instead of hard liqueur. However, there was a week in September where I binged for 4 days straight on hard alcohol, I mean day and night binge. That flared my pancreas, so I got a perscription for pain medication and didn't eat for 4 days, after that, it was better. You would think I learned my lesson :( The third time it happened was recently, the week after New Year's and that was because again I binged on hard alcohol for 4 day straight, up until New Year's eve. This time my pancreatitis lasted for 5 days. I swear, I was slapping myself in the face for being so irresponsible. I felt like and still feel like a total idiot. I tell myself that I'm not going to drink but it's always that one moment where I just lose it. It would be nice if there was like a support group for people with pancreatitis that I could attend. That would help so much.

    One thing I do know is that when I binge, pancreas flares. I also know that food doesn't bother me because I have always been a healthy eater. I actually enjoy vegetables and stuff like that, I cant live without it just like water. This last flare up, I munched on potato chips here and there. I just chewed it up a little more then I would normally do. It actually helped with my hunger and it didn't hurt to eat.

    I'm thinking, I should start a meet up group for this condition to share stories, swap recipes, and healthier lifestyles.

    1. I slapped myself a couple times. Ive been hospitalized twice. First time i drank. I was suprised. I went on a diet but fell off and ate a lot of bad foods again and was drinking here and there. Not alot (no binging days in a row or heavy drinking within a night-just enough to get a good buzz) but soon enough i found myself in the emergency room the day after I had drank a mixed drink and a beer. I dont think it helped that my eating habits were pretty crappy. Im talking pizza, greasy greasy pizza, burgers, etc... The third time I didnt have to stay over night but i was at the hospital for a while! Like half the day. I blame my eating habits again. I fell off my diet of brown rice, grilled chicken not a lot of fatty foods. etc...I took a sip of alcohol (just a sip) not even enough to consider a real sip. because I was scared. And soon enough it hurt and my pancreas was inflammed. Now i just stay clear of alcohol completely!! Very hard. I was never much of a big drinker before but now when some one tells you not to do some thing or that you can't--is when you want to do it the most. I just graduated college. So i did my fair share of drinking. I dont think I ever drank as much as most college students but ya... I would like to get a couple drinks every now and than with friends or go to clubs. Im YOUNG im 23 years old and been dealing with this for the past 2 years. This depresses me alot. Eat this! DONT eat that. dont drink etc... I too wish there were some sort of support groups. I feel alone at times like I am the only person going through well at least my age...Every one is out drinking every weekend, eating whatever they want and here I am at home usually in pain, low energy, always tired and it is NO FUN whatsoever. I feel like no one understands...and people wont understand unless they too are going through what i am going through. My doctors are absolutely no help. Just test after test. giving me pain meds with no real plans on helping me to get better or helping me with a better diet plan. We should exchange emails. Yes?


    2. I have heard that many people who have had a problem with alcohol have gone to Alcholics Anonymous. Perhaps that is something to consider as a support group for not drinking. Alcoholic pancreatitis can be quite deadly from what I understand. So while it might be a good idea to have meetings for pancreatic support it is also necessary for sufferers to deal directly with the problems which might kill them. My doctor told me that I could never drink again because it would kill me. He told me this when I was in the hospital suffering from severe acute pancreatitis. For people who have a hard time putting down the drink and have pancreatitis as a result looking toward a place with proven results to help one stop drinking seems like a strong viable option. Alcoholic Anonymous is probably the number one place where alcoholics go to stop drinking. Not drinking one day at a time is a great place to start for anyone who suffers from the ills of pancreatitis... at least that's what my doctor told me and what the statistics seem to back up. I have personally found that it is best to keep it simple rather than to try to make it more complicated. Best to you and your recovery!

    3. You could die from this, you know.

  6. I am 23 years old and I get very frequent flare ups. We are talking 2 to 3 times a month and the Doctors don't know what is causing it because I don't drink, do pills, not diabetic, and its not in my family. When my pancreas starts hurting I eat Nothing and "try" to drink water. I say "try" because the pain is so severe it makes me sick constantly. I know how someone feels when they say "I feel like I'm dying" because it's like dying from the inside out very slowly and painfully.

  7. My husband has had pancreatitis 5times now, all due to his hypertriglicemia. They average on meds, fasting 1500-2000. (Ya I know) yes there is a genetic part for these numbers and a not healthy pancreas. He is now 32, been fighting these numbers for 14 years, and in the last 4 years has has pancreatitis 5 times, has had his gallbladder out, different Meds to combat his numbers and we still fight the uphill battle of stuggling to prevent this. ( I say we because everything that happens to one of us happens to both of us. Just how we roll) I do 95% of the cooking and do my very best to make things as healthy as possible for him. He has found a new job to cut the stress out, and finally have a regular sleep schedule. Now we are dealing with the fact that his pancreas is going into attack mode at what used to be his ",normal" range. Sigh, so here I go into bring it on mode. So much of your information and what works for you is awesome. Thank you so much!!! The hardest part for him is that he is an emotional eater, so I try to fill our house with foods that fill him ul quicker with less, lots of legumes, try to eliminate the animal fats, or keep them at a min. Now I know to keep the chocolate AWAY!! best part is he will say " ill try anything" thank you.

    1. I have found with my high Trigs and chronic pancreatitis it is cigarette smoke more than fatty food to stay away from. Cigarette smoke brings on an attack faster for me every time.

  8. It is really terrific to find a blog devoted to a little talked about condition. Pancreatitis. Most people can't even pronounce it properly. I had an attack of severe acute pancreatitis in Dec of 2009 and was released from hospital, 15 days later in early Jan of 2010. I was on dilaudid for 13 of the 15 days in hospital. Morphine did little to dull the incredible pain. The diagnosis was of a gall stone lodged in the pancreatic bile duct - causing obstruction, and causing the pancreas to begin to digest istelf and thus causing the severe unrelenting pain. The surgeon would not operate on the gall bladder until he was certain the pancreas was out of the danger zone of severe inflammation. They put me on 6 different antibiotics on a drip, round the clock. No food or liquids for the first 8 days. Ugh. Then only light awful tasteless broths from the hospital, some juice, ice chips and a bit of water. Even now writing this, my pancreas gives a twinge in the memory of those two long long weeks. I was not given any dietary advice - no encouragement whatsoever, just the desire to do further 'testing' on me.
    I adopted very fervently at first and then rather feebly as of late the post gall bladder diet of low fat intake, watch the spices too, red meat seems to truly aggravate the digestive track for me as well as pork - I have to always know where a restroom is in a public place and how fast I can get there from my current shopping post ...
    I have no health insurance and as many have previously stated, so little is known about this disease that the information is scare and in no true cohesive format. I hope to learn more from you all as you comment back and forth.

  9. does anyone suffer from dirreah and do u know if this is only a condition of chronic pancreatitus

    1. Diarrhea is very common with both acute and chronic pancreatitis. It is from the food not being properly digested because the pancreatic enzymes for digesting fat are compromised.

  10. I have been living with chronic pancreatitis for almost 7 years. I was told to never drink alcohol or even take anything with it in it (such a Nyquil) or I'd end up back to square one. I've never been a drinker, at all anyway. My pancreatitis was caused by an ERCP. After then idiot of a doctor touched my pancreas during the procedure, I spent nearly a year in the hospital (developed a pseudocyst that went from my pancreas to my right hip), then 2 years at home, pretty much confined there, with a central line to receive my antiemetics, pain meds, & fluids. I have learned to eat right...that's for sure. LOW fat & HIGH carbs...NO fatty, fried foods. So far, so good. :)

  11. Hi everyone, Well, it's almost 5 am and I've been up since 2 being hyper aware of my pancreas acting up. Been feeling it for a few days now. I was in the hospital in June and was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. I was there for the worst 3 days--seemed much longer. Question, does anyone else get gassy when it's flaring? I can't stop gurgling and burping and well, you get the idea...?? I was really good there for awhile and had some wine a couple days ago, could this be the reaction? Im scared and dont want to go back to the hospital!!

    1. Nameless....I aldo get gassy when it's flaring....Just was hospitalized in the begining of July and have had a couple of flare ups since....

  12. I have had ongoing issues with pancreatitis. Had an ERCP in Sept last yr and hav been good up until about one month ago when I was very stressed and eating poorly and ended up with pancreatitis again. The doctor says hopefully it wont happen again. I have changed my diet and I no longer eat breakfast only have a skim hot chocolate. For lunch I usually have a toasted sandwich or sushi and for dinner I have been ordering 'lite n easy' meals. I have small snacks between and have cut out chocolate and sweet biscuits and cakes etc. I have noticed that I am no where near as bloated or having that sick heavy feeling between my ribs. I have also cut my caffine intake to ay 3 times a week. These things seem to have helped so far. I cannot eat apples anymore, or fatty red meat. I avoid processed foods and high fat - it just makes me feel aweful after!! I also have not had a sip of alcohol in over a year! When you get that sick you are sure you are is not worth it!!! Fingers crossed the pancreatitis wont come back. The specialist said if it does I will have to have a second ERCP with another spincterotomy and stent in both my pancreatic and bile ducts - EEeekk!! So for now on its healthy eating for me!!

    1. Hi Anon,

      "When you get that sick you know you are dying..." So true. The words explain it but it also feels like something that is so completely internalized that it's nearly impossible to communicate... but it's depressing and scary, to say the least.

      I can't eat apples anymore either, or fatty red meat, or processed foods or high fat.

      Stress catapults my pancreas into an attack faster than anything else. It's like you need to life a life of zen - never reacting or allowing yourself to internalize other people's drama. This has been one of the hardest changes for me. Afterall, we're not perfect people and just knowing doesn't make it easy to change.

      That being said, about a year ago, someone was intentionally irking me. It got to me. I internalized it. Not even sure I let him know it bothered me. A couple hours later I was in the emergency hospital with Acute pancreatitis according to my blood levels.

      I went home and did what I know how to do. I made my teas (read about Chrissy's Tea), ate ginger and took care of myself. Within 15 hours I had another blood test and my levels were back to NORMAL. The high end of normal, but normal.

      The problem, as I see it, is that stress weakens my adrenal gland (ie. the adrenaline rush sort of thing). The Adrenal Gland is part of the Endocrine System. The Pancreas is part of the Endocrine System. Since the pancreas is already vulnerable in a person like you or me, it doesn't appreciate what stress does to it and it freaks out...

      I have learned that stress can literally kill me. Now, whatever it is that could potentially be a stressful situation is simply not worth it. Even if I am already in the middle of it, it's easy for me to remember that if I allow it to affect me or if I allow myself to become involved with someone else's insanity it can be the literal and quick death of me... and honestly, I'm simply not ready for it.

      So think zen! :-)



  13. I have been dealing with pancreatitis since I was 5 years later I am still dealing with it. I have been through all kinds of tests and they think it's probably due to me being bulimic since I was 15. I used to drink, but not anymore. I purged last night and woke up to excruciating pain at 3 a.m. I'm so mad at myself. I'm dreading going to the hospital. I usually try to last as long as I can at home. I haven't eaten all day, but the pain medication I take is making me sick to my stomach. I'm praying its just a gastritis flare up and not pancreatitis, but the pain is going through my back and I can't get comfortable/sleep. So, I'm going to try some of the suggestions above and see if they help. I take Protonix, Creon(pancreas enzymes) and Carafate. Is there anything else people take that helps??

    1. Hi there,

      I'm sorry you are going through this. Unfortunately, purging and pancreatitis aren't friends and we tend to lose when we think we can play in the playground.

      For me, Creon never seemed to do anything noticable. What I do which helps is I stay off food until the pain decreases and my pancreas is feeling better. Yes, you'll be hungry... but deal with it and know it'll pass.

      I also head for the ginger. If I were in immediate pain and discomfort I would generally either eat minced or pureed ginger which I buy in a jar at a health food store, or I eat the pink (or off white sushi ginger which can be bought at just about any regular grocery store. I eat it straight out of the jar. Start slow to see how you react... or at least that's what I do. I will usually eat at least a few slices of it and then more if I need it or so desire.

      Ginger decreases inflammation. I can feel an almost immediate beneficial effect on my pancreas when I eat ginger.

      There are other ways I incorporate ginger into my life. I buy ginger root at the grocery store and eat it with steak. I eat it plain if it's all I have and my pancreas is bothering me. I love to make ginger tea. Minced ginger is good on salad.

      Dandelion is a wonderful anti-inflammatory which I use to decrease the inflammation of my pancrea when I'm having a flare-up... or simply discomfort. I also make tea out of it. I like to mix it with the ginger root in the tea.

      I hope that helps and I hope you feel better soon!

  14. Hello, Everyone. I had suffered with this deadly disease on may'2012 and been in hospital for nearly 2 weeks. Those two weeks were like staying in hell and dealing with monsters. But, I was never alcoholic. I admit my food habits were not good. I didn't take food on time and was fond of having zunk food outside. Doctors couldn't give me a proper answer for what reason I got into this.

  15. Dealing with this is crazy I was in the hospital for 28 days came out taking 5 shots a day of insluin...I stay away from high fat foods and sugar...I take 5 different rxs for triglycerides...lowest I have gotten them is 600...come to find out I was born with a defect in my liver...that causes my liver to attack my pancreas...and causes the high Triglyceride...

  16. Hello all

    I almost died. I went to the ER the 7th of February I was sent home saying that I had a UTI infection take the antibiotics and vicodin and you should be fine. That night which was a Thursday my pain steadily increased. From approximately 7 p.m. Till 6 a.m. the next morning I had taken 12 3 dash 325 vicodin and it was not working. My brother rush me back to the hospital that's when they performed a CT scan and they found the pancreas Titus. I know that blood tests are the true indicator but my pancreas was so when flying and had so much dead tissue that it actually was the first positive test not blood. I spent over 31 in the hospital with a feeding tube TPN tube pain button and an IV pump. It wasn't until the third week in fact the end of the 3rd week that I was in and good enough physical shape for them to remove my gallbladder . I came home 7 days later and now 6 weeks remove from that day I feel better but I damn sure know that I'm not well.

    I feel like I'm in constant pain as my body aches all the time. I have not had a drink in almost 8 months so that was six months prior to the incident. I had asked my GI on college ist why I'm still in pain I eat very well now I exercise and no alcohol but I can't go more than 36 hours without the need of a narcotic pain medication. In fact my pain was so bad the other night that I almost cried in call 911. Is anyone facing the same issue that I am pain all over your body calm a cold chills, night sweats, and a domino pain especially after eating. Does anyone have any suggestions I'm 36 years old and I can not continue to with this way I don't know which is worse at this point dealing with this or just f****** die please help

    1. Similar to you except my pancreatitis resulted in a pseudocyst the size of a grapefruit and I had to wait 6 weeks for surgery. This was in 2009 and it took me 2 years and having another baby to heal myself. Now after all that time of enjoying food I have had 2 attacks in the last week......I'm 33 and I have 3 kids aged 6,4 and 2 and the burden of pancreatitis is so heavy and restrictive.

    2. I also am sore all over and often fatigued. I have been having attacks since my early twenties, and over the years it has gotten worse. I am in constant numb pain. Everyone always says food choices make a difference but I do not find they do, although I have always had a more natural based diet to start with. I find I flare up faster when I become dehydrated, physically drained/over working, and around cigarette smoke. I would say stay away from cigarettes as much as stay away from alcohol.

  17. I dunno if anyone is here still, or gone and never reads this? But am I the only person who had Pancreatitis, was hospitalized, and DID not receive any medication prescriptions? Im no druggie, dont like pills, but I feel as though I have no security blanket.

    I suppose its partly my fault, they had me so doped on drips of pain killers and fluids and whatever else, I didnt even know where I was or what day it was when I was finally awake more then 10 minutes. And in that 10 minutes,(which was 5 days after I was admitted), I stood up and said "I have a wife and 3 month old child at home, Im leaving" They begged, pleaded, even told me that the bill would be double because I left.

    I know now, that I should have stayed, even longer, cuz I wasnt fully recovered, but there was no discharge paperwork done, no prescriptions, nothing, and Im wondering if maybe my hospital is crap?

  18. Pancreatitis... It's the most horrible pain in the world! ALCOHOL and these foods are triggers: chocolate, coffee, pop, milk, rich sweet desserts, yogurt, ice cream and all cold foods even ice, oats, nuts especially peanuts & peanut butter, all oils even olive oil, coconut products, spicy food especially mexican food, junk food like doritoes and cheetoes, all fried food, pickles, zucchini, squash, raisins, grapes, mellons, tomatoes, lemons, limes, pineapples, avacadoes, bananas, onions, garlic, cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, all dairy hurts me, red meat, pork, turkey, chicken, southern cuisine is the worst because it's fried, fast food, pizza, my beloved cream cheese bagels and lox, most soups, clam chowder, loaded potatoes, and most municipal tap water. Indiana's water is alright. So... I basically live off crackers, sometimes rice but that can be troublesome, tuna because salmon is out (I don't care how organic the manufacturers say it is -- salmon hurts!), low fat broth, pumpkin purée, apple sauce, occasionally whole wheat bread, lettuce, carrots, Gatorade is alright, and that Indiana water. Oh well... I've always been a picky eater, so it's not a big deal. My heart goes out to those who are in pain. God help us all.