Pancreatitis is a swelling of the pancreas, a small organ behind the stomach that produces the chemicals the body needs to digest food. Not only that, the pancreas produces insulin and glucagon, which controls blood sugar levels. When the pancreas swells, it can lead to scarring and inability to function.

There are two kinds of pancreatitis: chronic and acute. Chronic pancreatitis is most often caused by alcoholism. However, sometimes the cause can’t be determined, and genetic causes are becoming more common. Other causes include chronic blockage of the pancreatic duct, injury and high blood cholesterol. Acute pancreatitis occurs more often in men and is caused by alcohol abuse, certain surgeries and gallstones.

The main symptom of pancreatitis is abdominal pain. It may come and go, or it may be persistent. It may be more painful when you are laying flat on your back or after a meal or alcoholic drink. Other symptoms are indigestion, vomiting, jaundice, fever, sweating, gas and hiccups.

Acute cases usually go away in a week or so, but, in some cases, hospitalization is required, and the condition can be fatal. Chronic cases can develop into a serious, life-threatening illnesses, so consult a doctor immediately.


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Pancreatitis
The Journal of American Medical Association: Pancreatitis
MedLine Plus: Chronic pancreatitis
MedLine Plus: Acute pancreatitis


MedLine Plus: Pancreatitis tutorial
The Journal of American Medical Association: Pancreatitis


MedLine Plus: Pancreatitis crónica
MedLine Plus: Pancreatitis aguda