Understanding Pancreatitis

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What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the redness and swelling (inflammation) of the pancreas. This happens when digestive juices or enzymes attack the pancreas. The pancreas lies behind your stomach on the left side of your belly. It is close to the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum).

The pancreas is a gland. It does 2 main things:

Pancreatitis may be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic).

Acute pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis

What causes pancreatitis?

The most common causes of pancreatitis include:

Other causes of pancreatitis include:

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of pancreatitis may look like other health problems. Please always look over your healthcare provider to be sure.

How is pancreatitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will look at your past health. He or she will give you a physical exam.

You may have some blood tests done. You may also have some imaging tests including:

How is pancreatitis treated?

The treatment goal is to rest the pancreas and let it heal.

In most cases, you:

Pancreatitis often gets better in a few days.

If any problems happen, treatment may include:

If you have chronic pancreatitis you may also:

What are the complications of pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis usually gets better on its own over time. Most people recover without any problems. A small number of cases end up with fluid collections around the pancreas that require drainage.

Chronic pancreatitis may also get better on its own. But that can take longer, after a few attacks. Chronic pancreatitis has a greater risk of long-term problems such as: