- Pancreatitis refers to inflammation (swelling) of the pancreas that is most often caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol abuse.
- There are other causes that your gastroenterologist will look for, as well.
- Pancreatitis often starts as a sudden attack of upper belly pain.
- Treatment for pancreatitis usually focuses on easing pain and meeting the fluid and nutritional needs of the patient.
- There are two types of pancreatitis, acute and chronic.
- Both have similar symptoms that can be recurrent and either mild or severe.
|Can occur suddenly and goes away within a few days.
||Takes many years to develop and does not go away, since the pancreas is permanently injured or scarred.
|Most often caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use, but there are other causes. Sometimes, no cause can be found.
||Chronic pancreatitis can be associated with frequent flare-ups or persistent symptoms such as pain, diabetes or issues digesting fat.
|Most cases are mild.
||Many patients with chronic pancreatitis will have calcifications of the pancreas that show on a computerized tomography (CT) scan.
|Mostly involves a short hospital stay to heal the pancreas.
||Most people with chronic pancreatitis have a good outlook if they follow their management plan.
Chronic and acute pancreatitis have similar symptoms, but a few vary.
Patients may have a few or all of these symptoms:
- A slow or sudden severe pain in the middle part of the upper belly going through to your back. This pain may get worse when you eat and builds to a pain that does not go away.
- Nausea and throwing up.
- Weight loss.
- Greasy or oily stools.
- Diarrhea (loose stool).
- Jaundice (when your skin and/or the whites of your eyes turn yellow). This is rare.
If you have unexplained weight loss that lasts more than a few weeks, call your doctor.