pancreas is a hardworking organ. It makes enzymes that help you digest food. It also
makes insulin to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Short-term (acute) pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of your pancreas. This can be
very painful. You may have nausea, vomiting, and fever. If your acute pancreatitis
doesn’t get better and slowly gets worse, you have chronic pancreatitis.
you have chronic pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes that would normally travel by tubes
inside your pancreas and empty into your upper intestine, become trapped inside your
pancreas. This causes pain and scarring. The trapped enzymes slowly destroy your
The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is drinking too much alcohol over many years. Other causes include:
Early symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar to acute pancreatitis. Symptoms are
occasionl and include:
Chronic pancreatitis destroys your pancreas. This means that your body won't be able to
make needed enzymes and hormones. This can result in malnutrition, because you won't be
able to digest foods. Chronic pancreatitis can also cause diabetes. This happens because
your pancreas can't make insulin. Insulin controls blood sugar.
Your healthcare provider will diagnose you with chronic pancreatitis if:
healthcare provider will examine your belly. You will also be asked about your drinking
history and any family history of pancreatic disease or cystic fibrosis. Blood and
imaging tests are an important part of your diagnosis. They can include:
Day-to-day treatment includes:
acute pancreatitis or a flare-up, you may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.
Your exact treatment will depend on the cause of your chronic pancreatitis, how severe
the symptoms are, and your physical condition. Acute treatments may include:
Chronic pancreatitis damages the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. This may
cause these complications:
best way to prevent chronic pancreatitis is to drink only in moderation or not at all.
Moderate alcohol drinking is considered to be no more than 1 drink per day for women and
2 drinks per day for men. Quitting smoking is also very helpful.
If you have been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, your healthcare provider may suggest these lifestyle changes:
your healthcare provider when you start to have acute symptoms, including:
Day-to-day treatment includes
pain medicine, pancreatic enzyme supplements with every meal, insulin if you
develop diabetes, and vitamin supplements if needed.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: