To understand what pancreatitis is, you first have to understand what the pancreas is, and what its function in the body is. The pancreas is an organ located between the stomach and the intestines. It has two functions, to secrete hormones such as insulin and glucagon, as well as secreting its own digestive juice to aid in digestion.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, caused by digestive enzymes activating inside the organ instead of the small intestine as intended. The two main common causes for this inflammation are alcohol abuse and gallstones, but it can also be caused by viruses, bacteria, and cancer, to name a few.
Pancreatitis is divided into two types: acute and chronic. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and the attack is over in a few days. This type is generally caused by gallstones. Chronic pancreatitis is a gradually building condition, and alcohol abuse is the most common cause of this type.
The primary symptoms of pancreatitis are severe, burning pain in the abdomen, as well as nausea and vomiting. Eating food worsens the symptoms. A doctor’s diagnosis looks for the severe abdominal pain as well as an abdominal ultrasound.
Since pancreatitis is a very serious condition that can cause complications and/or become fatal, treatment is given quickly at a hospital. The underlying cause of the pancreatic inflammation will also be identified (if possible) and treated.
The primary lifestyle choice to avoid pancreatitis is avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.