Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is a long, flat, pear-shaped organ located behind the stomach. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. In pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes attack the tissue that produces them.
- Acute pancreatitis—occurs suddenly, with severe upper abdominal pain (This can be a serious, life-threatening illness if not treated.)
- Chronic pancreatitis—a progressive disorder that can destroy the pancreas
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Causes of pancreatitis include:
- Alcohol abuse (most common cause)
- Gallstones and other obstructions
- Surgery or trauma to the pancreas
- Certain medicines
- Unknown causes (approximately 15% of cases)
- Elevated blood triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia)
- HIV infection
- A defective pancreas duct (pancreas divisum)
- Complication of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
Last reviewedOctober 2012by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.