Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas is a long, flattened, 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.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. There will be specific questions about how much alcohol you drink and what medications you take.
Other tests may include:
Treatment for acute pancreatitis depends on the severity of the attack. Hospitalization may be necessary. The main goal is to rest the pancreas. In mild cases, this means you may not have food for 3 to 4 days. In severe cases, you may not be able to have food for 3-6 weeks. You will likely need strong pain medication during this time.
Treatment may also include:
The goals of treatment for chronic pancreatitis are to relieve pain and manage nutritional and metabolic problems. Specific steps include:
Surgery and/or ERCP may be needed to:
If you are diagnosed with pancreatitis, follow your doctor's instructions .
American Gastroenterological Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Pancreas Foundation
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=2 . Accessed July 16, 2009.
Feldman, Scharschmidt BF, Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease . 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders: 2002.
National Pancreas Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pancreasfoundation.org . Accessed July 16, 2009.
Pancreatitis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/pancreatitis/ . Updated July 2008. Accessed July 16, 2009.
Tadataka Y, Alpers DH, Kaplowitz N, Laine L, Owyang C, Powell DW. Textbook of Gastroenterology . 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2003.
Last reviewed September 2009 by Bridget Sinnott, MD, FACE
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.
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