Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. Some signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis include upper abdominal pain, abdominal pain that radiates to the back, abdominal pain that is worse after eating, abdominal pain that feels better by leaning forward or rolling into a fetal position, nausea, vomiting and abdominal tenderness. Chronic pancreatitis signs and symptoms may include upper abdominal pain, indigestion, unexplained weight loss, and steatorrhea (oily, smelly stools).
Pancreatitis may occur when the pancreas activates digestive enzymes too soon. The enzymes cause inflammation which damages the cells. Scar tissue may form which leads to loss of function which may lead to digestive problems and diabetes. Pancreatitis may also be caused by gallstones.
- excessive alcohol consumption
- use of certain medications (such as corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics such as tetracycline)
- infection (including mumps, hepatitis, rubella, and Epstein-Barr virus)
- pancreatic cancer or other abnormalities in the pancreas
- high levels of blood fats
- surgery that temporarily cuts off blood supply to the pancreas
- injury to the abdomen
- cystic fibrosis
- cigarette smoking
- family history of pancreatitis
- high calcium levels in the blood
A number of serious complications can be attributed to pancreatitis such as breathing problems, diabetes, infection, kidney failure, malnutrition, and pancreatic cancer.
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