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All about pancreatitis causes of pancreatitis symptoms of pancreatitis risk factors for pancreatitis complications of pancreatitis acute pancreatitis causes of acute pancreatitis symptoms of acute pancreatitis diagnosis of acute pancreatitis treatment for acute pancreatitis chronic pancreatitis causes of chronic pancreatitis symptoms of chronic pancreatitis diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis treatment for chronic pancreatitis prevention of pancreatitis

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that may occur as an acute, painful attack, or may be a chronic condition developing gradually over time. It is caused when pancreatic enzyme secretions build up and begin to digest the organ itself. Another term for this condition is auto digestion, which occurs when, for some unknown reason, the pancreas' powerful

enzymes are activated in the pancreas itself rather than in the duodenum. It is believed that trypsin sets off a domino effect, activating other enzymes to speed the auto digestive process.

The pancreas is a soft, elongated gland situated at the back of the upper abdominal cavity behind the stomach. It is divided into the head (through which the common bile duct runs as it enters the duodenum) and the body (which extends across the spine and the tail), which is close to the left kidney and to the spleen. Because the pancreas lies at the back of the abdominal cavity, diseases of the pancreas may be difficult to diagnose.

The pancreas has two main functions produces a series of enzymes which help in the digestion of food. Enzymes produced in the pancreas are important in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and, particularly, fats. Bicarbonate is also produced in large amounts to neutralise the acid produced by the stomach. The pancreas produces a series of hormones which are important in maintaining a normal level of sugar in the blood. The best known of these hormones is insulin. Insulin deficiency of this hormone results in the development of diabetes. Another hormone (glucagon) helps to raise blood sugar, and several other hormones control intestinal function.

Pancreatitis may be acute (new, short term) or chronic (ongoing, long term). Either type can be very severe, even life threatening. Either can have serious complications. Acute pancreatitis usually begins soon after the damage to the pancreas begins. The attack is typically very mild, but about 20% are very severe. It lasts for a short time and usually resolves completely by the pancreas returning to its normal state. Some people have only one attack; others have more than one, but the pancreas always returns to its normal state. Chronic pancreatitis begins as acute pancreatitis. If the pancreas becomes scarred during the attack of acute pancreatitis, it cannot return to its normal state. The damage to the gland continues, becoming worse over time.

More information on pancreatitis

What is pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that may occur as an acute, painful attack. Pancreatitis, an occasional side effect of ddI, can result in severe abdominal pain and death.
What causes pancreatitis? - Heavy alcohol use over many years is a leading cause of chronic pancreatitis. A leading cause of acute pancreatitis is gallstones.
What are the symptoms of pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis symptoms are characterized by severe pain in the middle of the abdomen that occurs secondary to inflammation of the pancreas.
What are the risk factors for pancreatitis? - Gallstones (lumps of solid material found in the gallbladder) and alcohol abuse (in 80 percent of all cases) are major risk fators forpancreatitis.
What are the complications of pancreatitis? - Complications of pancreatitis can be conceptualized as occurring in two domains one as local and one as systemic complications.
What is acute pancreatitis? - Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the pancreas.
What causes acute pancreatitis? - Gallstones and excessive alcohol usage are the most common causes for injury to the pancreas and account for more than 85% of all patients that develop pancreatitis.
What are the symptoms of acute pancreatitis? - Acute pancreatitis generally starts with a pain in the upper abdomen. Other symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and fever.
How is acute pancreatitis diagnosed? - The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis can be challenging because the signs and symptoms of other medical conditions can mimic those of pancreatitis.
What is the treatment for acute pancreatitis? - The goals of treatment of acute pancreatitis are to alleviate pancreatic inflammation and to correct the underlying cause.
What is chronic pancreatitis? - Chronic pancreatitis is a condition associated with widespread scarring and destruction of pancreatic tissue.
What causes chronic pancreatitis? - The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is long-term excessive alcohol consumption. Other causes include high levels of calcium in the blood, abnormalities in anatomy.
What are the symptoms of chronic pancreatitis? - Some people with chronic pancreatitis have no pain. Patients with this disease often lose weight, even when their appetite and eating habits are normal.
How is chronic pancreatitis diagnosed? - Diagnosing chronic pancreatitis in its early stages is often difficult. Diagnosis may be aided by a number of new techniques.
What is the treatment for chronic pancreatitis? - The doctor treats chronic pancreatitis by relieving pain and managing the nutritional and metabolic problems.
How to prevent pancreatitis? - Pancreatitis caused by gallstones can not be absolutely prevented. A healthy weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise can redce the risk of forming gallstones. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005