After drinking several shots of vodka every day for 15 years, a man in Pennsylvania had a very bad day.
The 50-year-old man had been drinking half a pint of vodka since he was 35 and went to the Emergency Room vomiting blood. He reported suffering from abdominal pain and “foul-smelling diarrhea” that had been plaguing him for two months and was quickly diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, often caused by alcoholism.
“Chronic alcohol use leads to a vicious cycle,” the internal medicine resident who treated the man at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pa., tells Live Science.
What basically happens is that alcohol spurs the pancreatic cells to produce enzymes that destroy and inflame tissue there. The calcium in the body (even at normal levels) tends to accumulate in the inflamed tissues, which causes further inflammation and so on.
The high degree of calcification in the man’s pancreas is rarely seen, doctors report. However, his recovery was rather uneventful after he was administered enzyme supplements. Eventually, he was sent back home but not before he was enrolled into an alcohol abuse rehabilitation program to tackle his drinking problem.
His case is presented in a paper called Calcific Pancreatitis Associated with Alcohol Use, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.