Helping Kids and Teens Understand Chronic Pancreatitis

*Please note: This slide set represents a visual interpretation and is not intended to provide, nor substitute as, medical and/or clinical advice.

When pancreatitis occurs over a longer period of time, and comes back over and over again, this is called "chronic" pancreatitis and can be a life long condition.

This animation will help you to understand what chronic pancreatitis means, and how you can stay as healthy as possible!

You might be thinking, “Why does chronic pancreatitis happen?”

Both kids and teenagers can have chronic pancreatitis, but what causes it can differ depending on your age group.

As a kid, the cause is usually linked to an illness, a blockage within the pancreas, or a genetic disease.

The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are very much like those of acute pancreatitis, except they are repeated episodes of belly pain, nausea, and vomiting.

These might happen a few times a year and might go on for several years.

In addition, you might also lose a lot of weight and have diarrhea or oily-looking stool or orange color in your stool.

Talk about this with your doctor.

If your doctor thinks you have chronic pancreatitis, your doctor will do some tests at the hospital.

The staff members at the hospital use imaging machines that can see inside your body and make scans of the pancreas to find out if it is inflamed.

If you have been told you have chronic pancreatitis you should follow directions from your doctor.

The doctor will test enzyme and hormone levels to learn how well your pancreas is working.

Complications that can result from chronic pancreatitis can include:
  • regular treatment for pain;
  • an inability to digest food;
  • diabetes; and
  • surgery.
Some of these can take a long time to develop.
Some medication may be given to help you with your pain.
Because the pancreas is damaged and does not make enough digestive enzymes to break food down by itself, you might also need to keep taking certain vitamins and special "enzyme" pills, to help you digest food.
Your doctor might need you to have surgery or special endoscopy for a blockage within the pancreas.
If you have chronic pancreatitis, following your doctor’s instructions is very important and taking your medications on time can help prevent any symptoms from worsening.
While living with chronic pancreatitis is challenging, there is good news in that several treatments and care options are available.
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Module Content

Acute Pancreatitis in Kids and Teens Chronic Pancreatitis in Kids and Teens Helping Kids and Teens to Understand and Prepare for Pancreatic Surgery Patient Story: Hear Gia's Story Parent Story: My Daughter Gia Patient Story: Hear Emma's Story Parent Story: My Daughter Emma

Slide Notes

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Slide Show - Helping Kids and Teens Understand Chronic Pancreatitis
This slide show will help you understand what chronic pancreatitis is, including its causes, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and what to expect. It also describes the complications that can result from chronic pancreatitis, as well as various treatments, surgical procedures, and how to stay as healthy as possible to help prevent any symptoms from worsening.

Also Available in this Section

Animation - Helping Kids and Teens Understand Chronic Pancreatitis
This animation will help you understand what chronic pancreatitis is, including its causes, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and what to expect. It also describes the complications that can result from chronic pancreatitis, as well as various treatments, surgical procedures, and how to stay as healthy as possible to help prevent any symptoms from worsening.
Watch now
Expert Video - What is chronic pancreatitis?
Physicians discuss how chronic pancreatitis can develop from repeated episodes of pancreatic inflammation, resulting in long term, irreversible damage to the pancreas. They discuss how a child can transition from having acute pancreatitis to chronic pancreatitis, but that the rate of progression can depend on the child's genetic makeup.
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Expert Video - What causes chronic pancreatitis in children and teens?
Physicians discuss chronic pancreatitis in children which is relatively rare and stems from causes that are either obstructive or genetic in nature. They describe how obstructive causes result from abnormalities in the pancreatic tubes or ducts, but that these are generally treatable. Genetic risk factors also account for children developing chronic pancreatitis, although having risk factors does not necessarily mean that a child will develop the pancreatitis. Other factors such as environment may be a contributing factor as well.
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Expert Video - How is chronic pancreatitis diagnosed in children?
Physicians describe chronic pancreatitis as a disease that is complex to diagnose. Diagnosis frequently relies on the assistance of imaging tools that include CT and MRI scans, endoscopic ultrasound, and ERCP. These tools used to visualize the pancreas and to determine if specific criteria for making a diagnosis are met. They note that it is important to realize that chronic pancreatitis will appear differently from one patient to the next.
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Expert Video - When are MRCP and ERCP used for diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis?
Physicians discuss the use of MRCP versus ERCP as an imaging tool for diagnosing chronic pancreatitis. They explain how MRCP has a great capacity for the initial imaging of the pancreatic ducts, while ERCP serves as a viable option when surgical intervention is necessary.
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Expert Video - How long does chronic pancreatitis last?
Physicians discuss that chronic pancreatitis is a life long illness that unfortunately can be quite disruptive on quality of life. They also discuss recent and ongoing efforts to develop support groups that aim to connect families caring for children with chronic pancreatitis.
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Expert Video - What are medical treatment options for chronic pancreatitis?
Physicians describe the medical treatment and endoscopic options available to patients for treating chronic pancreatitis. Since multiple needs and symptoms can arise from chronic pancreatitis, they explain that the illness should be addressed using a multidisciplinary approach in order to achieve the best patient health outcomes. Should those options fail to provide relief, surgery is also mentioned as an option.
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Expert Video - What diet and nutrition plan is recommended to manage chronic pancreatitis?
Physicians describe how nutrition is an important consideration over the long term in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Given the vital role of the pancreas in the digestion of food, they discuss what tests and procedures may be used to measure the function of the pancreas and if any changes to diet, nutrition, or vitamin intake should be recommended based on the findings.
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Expert Video - What is the long-term health outlook for chronic pancreatitis in children and teens?
Physicians describe the long-term health outlook for children and teens who have chronic pancreatitis. They explain that because the disease is quite variable, some patients will manage better than others, although the majority will develop some form of chronic pain over time. Another concern discussed is the possibility for some children to develop diabetes - the onset of which is also variable. Finally, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is of greater concern for teens due to increased opportunities for smoking and drinking.
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This educational activity has been developed by: The National Pancreas Foundation and Mechanisms in Medicine Inc.

This educational activity is supported by:

This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series that provides highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their health care professionals for optimal outcomes.