What is Pancreatitis? Causes and Symptoms of Pancreatitis


Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis.


The pancreas is a large gland that is located behind the stomach, close to the duodenum. In normal adult human, the pancreas is about 7 inches (17.8 cm) long and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide. It is a yellowish organ that secretes digestive juices or enzymes into the duodenum through a duct called the pancreatic duct.

There are two types of pancreatitis:




Acute pancreatitis means acute inflammation of the pancreas. It only lasts for a few days. In chronic pancreatitis, the inflammation may last long for a few years.

Causes of Pancreatitis:

Many factors may cause inflammation of pancreas, the most common being alcohol abuse. Other causes of pancreatitis are:

  • Smoking
  • Gallstones
  • Cancer of the pancreas
  • Hyperparathyroidism, i.e, high levels of parathyroid hormone in the blood
  • Hypercalcemia, i.e, high levels of calcium in the blood
  • High levels of triglycerides in the body
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Injury to the abdomen
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Certain medicines
  • A family history of pancreatitis

Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis:

Acute pancreatitis begins with extreme pain in the upper abdomen and slowly subsides with time. The pain may become severe or be constant in the abdomen. Sometimes the person experiences the pain radiating to other areas like in the back and limbs. The pain gets worse after having food or drink. Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Swollen, tender abdomen

Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis:

The person having chronic pancreatitis has all the symptoms of acute pancreatitis like pain, nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms experienced by the person are:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Diarrhea
  • Yellow coloration of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • Fatty stools
  • Sugar and proteins in the stool


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