For inflamed pancreas, eating right away may be best medicine

May 17, 2017

(HealthDay)—Getting hospital patients with mild pancreatitis to start eating sooner may speed their recovery, a new study says.

The finding challenges the long-held belief that these patients should avoid for days.

The University of Michigan researchers analyzed studies that included nearly 1,000 people hospitalized for pancreatitis. This is when the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling in the upper abdomen. Some common causes include gallstones and chronic alcohol use, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Patients with mild pancreatitis who were given food by mouth or by feeding tube within 48 hours of admission had fewer symptoms such as nausea, pain and vomiting.

They also had faster recoveries and spent less time in the hospital, the study authors said.

The risk of hospital readmission, complications or death was no higher than among patients who weren't given until several days after being hospitalized.

While the evidence of benefits was weaker in patients with more severe pancreatitis, there was no harm in having them begin eating earlier in their illness either, the researchers said.

The study was published May 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Food does more than just provide nutrition. It stimulates the gut and protects your body from harmful bacteria that might enter through the bowels," study author Dr. Valerie Vaughn said in a university news release. She is a clinical lecturer in general medicine at Michigan's medical school.

"Historically, we've been taught that if the pancreas was inflamed, eating would cause it to release more digestive enzymes and may worsen the situation—so whatever you do, don't feed patients," Vaughn explained.

"Then, studies in Europe began to suggest that patients did fine if they were fed early, so we started feeding when lab values or symptoms reached a certain point," she said.

"Now, our thinking has moved all the way toward letting them eat immediately. Our thought process over the years has really changed, and we hope this study will lead to consideration of early feeding for more ," Vaughn concluded.

Explore further: Research links genetics to early-onset pancreatitis in pediatric patients

More information: Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on pancreatitis.

Related Stories

Research links genetics to early-onset pancreatitis in pediatric patients

May 10, 2017
A study published today in The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that early-onset pancreatitis in children is strongly associated with certain genetic mutations and family history of pancreatitis.

Fatal case of suspected propofol-induced pancreatitis described

April 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—A fatal case of propofol-induced acute necrotizing pancreatitis has been described in a case report published online April 10 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

Gallbladder removal is common. But is it necessary?

April 3, 2017
Johns Hopkins researchers say that the findings they published in the current edition of The American Journal of Gastroenterology could have important implications for the field of personalized medicine.

Smoking, alcohol, gene variant interact to increase risk of chronic pancreatitis

January 8, 2015
Genetic mutations may link smoking and alcohol consumption to destruction of the pancreas observed in chronic pancreatitis, according to a 12-year study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. ...

Hospital acquired complications may be especially dangerous for kidney disease patients

April 27, 2017
Recently, researchers reported that patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at an increased risk of experiencing complications when hospitalized. The team has now found that potentially preventable hospital acquired ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.