Pancreatitis

An inflammation of the organ lying behind the lower part of the stomach (pancreas). The pancreas is a gland located in the upper part of the abdomen. It produces two main types of substances: digestive juices and digestive hormones. Inflammation of the pancreas is termed pancreatitis and its inflammation has various causes. Once the gland becomes inflamed, the condition can progress to swelling of the gland and surrounding blood vessels, bleeding, infection, and damage to the gland. There, digestive juices become trapped and start "digesting" the pancreas itself. If this damage persists, the gland may not be able to carry out normal functions. Pancreatitis may be acute (new, short-term) or chronic (ongoing, long-term). Either type can be very severe, even life-threatening. Either type can have serious complications. Pancreatitis may start suddenly and last for days or it can occur over many years. It has many causes, including gallstones and chronic, heavy alcohol use. Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Treatment usually requires hospitalisation. Once they stabilise the patient, doctors treat the underlying cause.