Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. The inflammation may be sudden (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Acute pancreatitis usually involves a single "attack," after which the pancreas returns to normal. Severe acute pancreatitis can be life threatening. With chronic pancreatitis, permanent damage occurs to the pancreas and its function, often leading to fibrosis (scarring).
Pancreatitis: acute versus chronic
The onset of acute pancreatitis is abrupt and dramatic and may follow a heavy meal or an alcoholic binge, causing pancreatic enzymes to break down the pancreas. Gallstones or alcohol abuse are the most common causes of acute pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis takes place over time and involves progressive destruction of the pancreas. Alcoholism, cystic fibrosis and stenosis (narrowing) of the pancreatic duct are common causes of chronic pancreatitis.
The most common causes of pancreatitis are:
The following are the other most common symptoms of pancreatitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of pancreatitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for pancreatitis may include:
Specific treatment for pancreatitis will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment may include:
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