Pancreatitis, either acute or chronic, is an inflammation of the pancreas. Both types are serious conditions that require medical attention.
Eighty percent of the cases of acute pancreatitis are due to excessive alcohol use or gallstones. Other possible factors include infection, certain drugs, chemotherapy agents or injury to the abdomen.
Acute pancreatitis usually causes sudden severe pain, starting around the navel and radiating to the back, worsened by movement. Other symptoms include upper abdominal swelling, burning pain, nausea, vomiting, gas, fever, sweating and muscle aches.
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar to those of the acute form, except that the pain is chronic rather than sudden. In the chronic form, inflammation has caused irreversible changes to the gallbladder. Repeated episodes of gallbladder infection or gallstones are often involved.
Pancreatitis commonly leads to diabetes and digestive difficulties. In some cases, it can lead to pancreatic cancer.
Treatment for pancreatitis may involve an IV to replace body fluids and nutrients, a nasogastric tube to draw out gastric juices, antibiotics (if infection is present) and avoidance of all food and drink so that the pancreas can begin to heal.