Do viruses cause acute pancreatitis? As someone who has been studying acute pancreatitis for many years I can say with certainty that viruses cause acute pancreatitis. I have searched for and read about a lot of cases of acute pancreatitis. I’ve talked with people from my blogs and my support group. And many say that they suffer flares, even acute pancreatitis during and/or after having a virus illness.
I also have experienced the horror and pain of acute pancreatitis and because of too many recurrent acute pancreatitis attacks I am chronic. I’ve had this condition for many years so my experience isn’t from yesterday or a few months ago.
While there are many factors that can contribute to this condition, one that is often overlooked is the role of viruses. In this article, I will explore what viruses cause acute pancreatitis, how they do so, and what can be done to prevent and treat this condition.
Introduction: Viruses Cause Acute Pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including gallstones, alcohol consumption, various prescription drugs, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, venoms (bee, spider, snake, scorpion), Autoimmune disease, Genetic variants, Congenital abnormalities (pancreas divisum), sphincter of oddi dysfunction and abdominal trauma.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed and begins digesting itself, it can cause a range of symptoms, including severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, high or low blood pressure, chills, sweats, tachycardia, hemorrhage, organ failure and death.
If viruses cause acute pancreatitis what role do they play?
While viruses are not the most common cause of acute pancreatitis, they can play a role in some cases. In fact, research has shown that there are several viruses that can cause inflammation in the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis. Some of the most common viruses associated with this condition include:
- Coxsackie virus
- Herpes simplex virus
- Hepatitis A virus
- Mumps virus
Common viruses associated with acute pancreatitis
Coxsackie virus is a type of virus that is part of a group known as enteroviruses. These viruses are usually spread through contact with fecal matter or respiratory secretions.
While most people who are infected with coxsackie virus do not experience any symptoms that scream acute pancreatitis, in some cases it can cause severe acute pancreatitis and myocarditis in humans. Both of these conditions can lead to death in the young and immunocompromized.
The virus replicates in a number of tissues specifically targeting the acinar tissue (these tissues/cells make the digestive enzymes) of the pancreas causing severe pancreatitis.
Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a common virus that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild flu-like symptoms to severe infections. It’s a double-stranded DNA virus and a member of the Herpesviridae family.
60-100% of humans world-wide are or become infected with CMV. It is a very contagious virus. CMV is also the virus responsible for the “kissing disease” or more commonly known as mononucleosis.
While most people, who are infected with CMV, do not experience symptoms that scream acute pancreatitis, in some cases it can cause inflammation in the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis.
Herpes simplex virus, or HSV, is a virus that is usually spread through contact with an infected person’s skin, mucous membranes, or bodily fluids.
While most people who are infected with HSV do not experience any symptoms of acute pancreatitis, in some cases HSV can cause inflammation in the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis.
Just another good reason to avoid STD transmission.
Hepatitis A virus is a virus that is usually spread through contact with contaminated food or water. Even though most people who are infected with hepatitis A experience very unpleasant symptoms including:
- abdominal pain,
- loss of appetite, and
- low-grade fever;
They do not seem experience any of the debilitating pain associated with pancreatitis, yet, in some cases it can cause inflammation in the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis.
Mumps virus is a virus that is usually spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva or respiratory secretions. While most people who are infected with mumps do not experience any symptoms, in some cases it can cause inflammation in the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis.
Corona virus as COVID-19 is known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Recent studies have revealed COVID-19-attributed acute pancreatitis (AP). However, clinical characteristics of COVID-19-attributed AP remain unclear. Some basic and pathological reports revealed expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane protease serine 2, key proteins that aid in the entry of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) into the pancreas. The experimental and pathological evaluation suggested that SARS-CoV-2 infects human endocrine and exocrine pancreas cells, and thus, SARS-CoV-2 may have a direct involvement in pancreatic disorders. Additionally, systemic inflammation, especially in children, may cause AP.
Acute pancreatitis can develop after COVID-19 vaccination. This process can even happen a few months later. Therefore, to better diagnosis and prevention of long-term complications, it is necessary to measure the lipase or amylase in patients that received COVID-19 vaccine if abdominal pain was occurred.
How do viruses cause acute pancreatitis?
The exact mechanism by which viruses cause inflammation in the pancreas is not fully understood. However, it is thought that viruses can trigger an immune response in the body, which can lead to inflammation in the pancreas. In some cases, viruses may also directly infect the pancreas, causing damage to the tissue and leading to inflammation.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis caused by viruses
The symptoms of acute pancreatitis caused by viruses are similar to those caused by other factors, such as alcohol consumption or gallstones. These symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. In some cases, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) may also be present.
Diagnosis and treatment of acute pancreatitis caused by viruses
Diagnosing acute pancreatitis caused by viruses typically involves a combination of blood tests, imaging tests (such as an ultrasound or CT scan), and a physical exam. Treatment for this condition may involve hospitalization, pain management, and supportive care (such as intravenous fluids and nutrition). In some cases, antiviral medications may also be prescribed to help fight the underlying virus.
Prevention of acute pancreatitis caused by viruses
Preventing acute pancreatitis caused by viruses involves taking steps to reduce your risk of infection. This can include practicing good hygiene (such as washing your hands regularly), avoiding contact with people who are sick, and getting vaccinated against viruses such as hepatitis A and mumps.
While viruses are not the most common cause of acute pancreatitis, they can play a role in some cases. By understanding what viruses cause acute pancreatitis, how they do so, and what can be done to prevent and treat this condition, we can help reduce the number of people who are affected by this painful and potentially life-threatening condition. If you are experiencing symptoms of acute pancreatitis, it is important to seek medical attention right away.