Acute pancreatitis

What is pancreatitis?

Inflammation of the pancreas is called as pancreatitis. The pancreas is a large gland which is behind the stomach and close to the duodenum.

Function of pancreas

The function of the pancreas is to secrete digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes along with bile, a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder helps to digest food. The pancreas is also responsible for the release of hormones like insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream and thus help the body to regulate the glucose levels.When the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes produced inside it attacks and damages the tissue that produce them.

Types of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is of two types, acute or chronic. Both the forms are serious and can lead to a number of complications. Bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur in severe cases.

What is acute pancreatitis?

Inflammation of the pancreas that occurs suddenly is termed as acute pancreatitis and this usually resolves in a few days with treatment. This can be a life-threatening illness with severe complications.

Causes of Acute Pancreatitis

The presence of gallstones is the common cause of acute pancreatitis. Details about gallstones can be seen at Gallstones.
Another reason for acute pancreatitis is consumption of heavy alcohol within hours or as long as 2 days after consuming alcohol. Other causes includes
1. abdominal trauma
2. medications
3. infections
4. tumors
5. genetic abnormalities of the pancreas


A gradual or sudden pain in the upper abdomen that sometimes extends through the back is the beginning symptom of acute pancreatitis. The pain is mild at first and may feel worse after eating. But the pain will be severe and may last for several days. Other symptoms may include
1. swollen abdomen
2. nausea
3. vomiting
4. fever
5. a fast beating pulse
6. dehydration
7. low blood pressure.

It may also lead to failure of the heart, lungs, or kidneys. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, it may be fatal.


1. Increased levels of amylase and lipase.
2. Blood tests.
3. Increased levels of digestive enzymes.
4. Changes in the level of glucose, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate.
5. Abdominal ultrasound.
6. Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
7. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).
8. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP).


1. Intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics, and medication are given to relieve pain.
2. Nasogastric feeding is recommended for several weeks while the pancreas heals.
3. The person is advised not to smoke, drink alcohol, or eat fatty meals.

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