What causes chronic pancreatitis?The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is long-term excessive alcohol consumption. There is a direct relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the risk of developing chronic pancreatitis. Alcohol related chronic pancreatitis usually follows a typical pattern. In most cases the person has been drinking heavily for 10 years or more before symptoms first begin. There is often a first bout of acute pancreatitis with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This may settle but if drinking continues the pancreas becomes more and more damaged. Recurring bouts of acute pancreatitis may develop. Unlike a 'one off' acute pancreatitis, the pain may then not go and chronic (ongoing) pain and other symptoms then develop.
Other causes include high levels of calcium in the blood, abnormalities in anatomy which are usually present at birth, cystic fibrosis, high blood fats (hypertriglyceridaemia), in rare cases, some drugs can cause pancreatitis, in a number of cases no specific cause can be identified, a condition known as idiopathic pancreatitis.