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Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a large gland located behind the stomach that secretes enzymes to help digest food.  It releases hormones into the bloodstream to help the body use glucose (sugar) for energy.

If your pancreas suddenly becomes irritated or inflamed, you have acute pancreatitis. It is most often caused by gallstones, but can also be caused by drinking alcohol.  it is often very painful and usually you will need emergency medical treatment.  It typically goes away in a short period of time

Symptoms

Symptoms of Pancreatitis may include:

  • Severe pain in your upper abdomen that goes through to your back
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal swelling and tenderness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Shallow, fast breathing

Diagnosing Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can be diagnosed through blood tests, health history and physical exam, ultrasound, and/or CAT scan.

Complications

Complication of Pancreatitis are:

  • Bleeding
  • Tissue damage
  • Infection
  • Pseudocysts (fluid filled sacs)
  • If the pancreas stays inflamed for a long time, you may develop chronic pancreatitis.  This is often due to continued drinking alcohol.  Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain.