Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It is a flat, long gland in the upper abdomen behind the stomach. It produces an enzyme that helps digestion and regulation of glucose in the body. The pancreas performs two main functions;

  • It produces enzymes that travel to the small intestine and helps in the breakdown of food material into small particles.
  • It produces insulin and glucagon hormones that release into the bloodstream. These hormones control and regulate the blood glucose level of the body.

It is two types: Acute pancreatitis-It occurs suddenly and lasts for days, while chronic pancreatitis-It occurs over the years. Mild cases of Pancreatitis are curable but severe cases may lead to death.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

The primary symptom of acute and chronic Pancreatitis is a pain in your upper abdomen leading to your back. People suffering from acute or chronic Pancreatitis can feel pain in different ways.

Acute Pancreatitis:

These are the following mild or severe symptoms of acute Pancreatitis;

  • Slow or sudden pain in the upper abdomen
  • It can sometimes spread to your back
  • It can be painful or mild
  • It may last for many days

Apart from these, other symptoms can be;

  • Fever
  • Nausea/ Vomiting
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Tender or swollen abdomen

Chronic Pancreatitis:

Some people suffering from chronic Pancreatitis feel pain, although some do not feel pain at all.

The pain can

  • Spread to your back
  • Constant and severe
  • Worse after eating
  • Disappear as your condition gets critical

The symptoms of it do not appear until your condition is complicated and critical.

Other symptoms may include;

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea/ Vomiting
  • Greasy, foul-smelled stool
  • Weight loss

Signs to seek care for Pancreatitis:

In case of severe Pancreatitis that needs to be monitored and requires immediate examination;

  • Pain in the abdomen (mild or severe)
  • Swelling or tenderness in the abdomen
  • Tissue damage to the abdominal cavity
  • Chills or fever
  • Increase heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Yellowish color of skin (Jaundice)
  • Whites of the eyes (Jaundice)

The significant signs are;

  • Severe infection
  • Inflammation
  • Blockage of pancreas
  • Blockage of gallbladder
  • Blockage of bile
  • Blockage of the pancreatic duct

If these conditions are left uncured, they can cause life-threatening complications and lead to death.

Significant causes of Pancreatitis:

The most predominant cause of acute Pancreatitis is gallstones. If the stones pass out of the gallbladder, it causes blockage and inflammation in the pancreas. These stones can become stuck in the bile or the pancreatic duct. This condition is called gallstone pancreatitis. On the other hand, the most common cause of chronic Pancreatitis is excessive use of alcohol and genetic disorder of your pancreas. Other reasons can be;

  • Blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • Increased level of blood fats (lipids)
  • Increased level of blood calcium

In some cases, there is no peculiar cause of Pancreatitis called idiopathic Pancreatitis.

The most persistent causes of it are;

  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Accumulation of gallstones in the pancreas
  • Genetic abnormalities in your pancreas
  • Some drugs like estrogens, steroids, and thiazide diuretics

Other causes can be:

  • Viral infection (Hepatitis, mumps)
  • Infection by parasites (Salmonella)
  • Abdominal injury
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to treat another disease
  • Pancreatic divisum (A birth disorder in which the parts of the pancreas fail to join together) occurs in 5 to 15 % of the population.
  • Cystic fibrosis (Destructive disorder that damages your liver, digestive tract, and other organs)
  • Trauma to your pancreas
  • Cigarette smoking



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