Drinking alcohol post gallstone pancreatitis

Patient

Q: I was hospitalized March 16th for gallstones and had to have my gallbladder removed on the 17th. I am a 21 year old female. I also had pancreatitis caused from the gallstones. I was wondering how long I should wait to drink alcohol after this? I heard 3 months, but I am a very fast healer and that seems a bit long. Thank you for your help!

Doctor

A:   Two of the most common causes of pancreatitis are gallstones and alcohol. Theoretically gallstone pancreatitis should be cured once the gallstones are removed post cholecystectomy. However the pancreas still requires time to heal and the acute inflammation to resolve. Alcohol may act by increasing the synthesis of enzymes by pancreatic cells to synthesize the digestive enzymes that are thought to be responsible for acute pancreatitis. Therefore even if the cause of your pancreatitis was not alcohol, consuming it may aggravate the situation. There are no current guidelines on alcohol consumption post gallstone pancreatitis, but I would suggest 3 months would be the absolute minimum time for resolution of the acute attack, and binge drinking should be completely avoided. All inflammatory markers and pancreatic enzymes should have returned to normal and there should be no evidence of chronic pancreatitis or pseudocyst formation on CT scan, otherwise complete cessation of alcohol in future would be advised. I would advise discussing your concerns with your surgeon at follow-up.

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