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Pancreatitis: Introduction

Pancreatitis is a serious disease of the pancreas, an organ and gland in the upper abdominal area. Pancreatitis is characterized by an inflammation of the pancreas and can be life-threatening. Pancreatitis can led to serious complications, such as diabetes, malabsorption, hemorrhage, and organ failure.

The pancreas produces and secretes digestive enzymes that help to digest food. These enzymes flow from the pancreas through the pancreatic duct into the small intestine, where they become active and break down food. In pancreatitis, inflammation causes these digestive enzymes to become active while still in the pancreas where they begin to digest the pancreas itself.

This process leads to the symptoms of acute pancreatitis that typically includes severe abdominal pain. For more details on symptoms, refer to symptoms of pancreatitis.

There are two types of pancreatitis: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and is often caused by alcohol abuse or gallstones. Less commonly it may also be caused by a reaction to medications, abdominal trauma, pancreatic cancer, duodenal ulcer, genetic deformities of the pancreas, and other conditions.

Chronic pancreatitis develops from acute pancreatitis. It is a more persistent and long-term disease than acute pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis develops gradually, generally over several years after the pancreas has become scarred from acute pancreatitis. It most often is caused by years of alcohol abuse, but can occur as a result of other causes of acute pancreatitis.

Making a diagnosis of pancreatitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and history of alcohol use. A physical examination is also performed, which may reveal severe tenderness of the upper abdomen.

Diagnostic testing includes blood tests to measure the amount of chemicals called lipase and amylase in the blood. Levels of amylase and lipase can be very high in acute pancreatitis. Pancreas function tests may also be done, and a sample of stool may be tested for the presence of a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas.

Imaging tests may include an abdominal ultrasound and CT scan, which can reveal gallstones, one of the causes of pancreatitis. CT scan may also show damage or calcification of the pancreas, a sign of chronic pancreatitis. Other tests that help to visualize the pancreas and related structures, such as the bile ducts and the gallbladder, include endoscopic ultrasound and MRI.

It is possible that a diagnosis of pancreatitis can be delayed or missed because symptoms may be attributed to other conditions with similar symptoms and for other reasons. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of pancreatitis.

The prognosis for pancreatitis is good for most people who follow a multifaceted treatment plan. Stopping drinking of alcohol is key to a good outcome. Dietary changes are also important. Treatment plans vary depending on the severity of the symptoms, the presence of complications, and an individual's medical history.

Severe acute pancreatitis is treated in the hospital and includes the intravenous administration of antibiotics, fluids, and pain medications, and monitoring for the development of complications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of pancreatitis....more »

Pancreatitis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of pancreatitis may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, and diarrhea are similar to symptoms of other conditions. These include gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or peptic ulcer. In addition, some people with chronic pancreatitis may not have pain, which can also delay a ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Pancreatitis:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Pancreatitis. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Pancreatitis: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Pancreatitis

Home medical tests possibly related to Pancreatitis:

Causes of Types of Pancreatitis:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Pancreatitis:

Review causes of more specific types of Pancreatitis:

Pancreatitis: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Pancreatitis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Pancreatitis Treatments

The goal of treatment of pancreatitis is to control symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, and minimize the secretion of digestive enzymes to allow the pancreas to heal. Treatment also aims to prevent the development of serious complications, such as malabsorption, and malnutrition, kidney failure, and pseudocyst.

The first step in treatment is prevention. ...Pancreatitis Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Pancreatitis may include:

Review further information on Pancreatitis Treatments.

Pancreatitis: Animations

Medications or substances causing Pancreatitis:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Pancreatitis as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Pancreatitis:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Pancreatitis as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Zalcitabine and Pentamidine interaction
  • Hivid and Pentamidine interaction
  • Zalcitabine and Nebupent interaction
  • Hivid and Nebupent interaction
  • Ganciclovir and Videx interaction
  • Cytovene and Videx interaction
  • more interactions...»

Pancreatitis: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Pancreatitis may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Pancreatitis

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Pancreatitis:

Pancreatitis: Deaths

Read more about causes and Pancreatitis deaths.

In-Depth Reports: Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis

Diabetes diagnosis and misdiagnosis (In-Depth Report): Detailed report on diabetes misdiagnoses, rare curable types, and less common diagnostic full report »

Misdiagnosis and Pancreatitis

Metabolic syndrome often undiagnosed: Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is an often overlooked medical condition that causes a cluster of chronic symptoms. There are often four symptoms and conditions combined: obesity, more »

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have more »

Rare undiagnosed iron disorder causes various severe conditions: The rare "iron overload" disorder, hemochromatosis, can cause a variety more »

Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present in a variety of different severities. Diseases in this group include more »

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains a variety of "good" bacteria that more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be an infectious diarrheal illness (i.e. more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child more »

Poorly healing leg rashes a classic sign of chronic disease: Recurring leg rashes, or poorly healing leg rashes, are a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes, particularly of Type 2 diabetes, but also Type 1 more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See causes of leg cramps or misdiagnosis of more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac disease). A variety of other more »

Obesity-related conditions undiagnosed in children: A variety of conditions are associated with obesity (see obesity), but these tend to be undiagnosed more often in child patients than in adults. Some of the overlooked conditions may include hypertension, more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, more »

Pancreatitis: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Pancreatitis

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Pancreatitis:

Pancreatitis: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Pancreatitis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Pancreatitis listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Pancreatitis as a symptom include:

Article Excerpts about Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum. The duodenum is the upper part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine through a tube called the pancreatic duct. These enzymes help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body use the glucose it derives from food for energy.

Normally, digestive enzymes do not become active until they reach the small intestine, where they begin digesting food. But if these enzymes become active inside the pancreas, they start "digesting" it. (Source: excerpt from Pancreatitis: NIDDK)

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large... (Source: excerpt from Pancreatitis: NIDDK)

Definitions of Pancreatitis:

INFLAMMATION of the PANCREAS. Pancreatitis is classified as acute unless there are computed tomographic or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographic findings of chronic pancreatitis (International Symposium on Acute Pancreatitis, Atlanta, 1992). The two most common forms of acute pancreatitis are ALCOHOLIC PANCREATITIS and gallstone pancreatitis.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Inflammation of the pancreas; usually marked by abdominal pain
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Acute or chronic inflammation of the pancreas due to autodigestion of pancreatic tissue by its own enzymes.
- (Source - CRISP)

Inflammation of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis may cause diabetes and problems with digestion. Pain is the primary symptom.
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Detailed list of causes of Pancreatitis

The list below shows some of the causes of Pancreatitis mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Pancreatitis?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Pancreatitis. Of the 68 causes of Pancreatitis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 4 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 4 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 62 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Pancreatitis:

The following list of conditions have 'Pancreatitis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Pancreatitis or choose View All.

View All A C D E G H J L M N P S T V Z










Conditions listing medical complications: Pancreatitis:

The following list of medical conditions have Pancreatitis or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.








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Causes of Pancreatitis Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Pancreatitis based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Pancreatitis:

    Subtypes of Pancreatitis:

    Pancreatic inflammation (3 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Pancreatitis:

    Pancreas symptoms (271 causes), Upper abdominal symptoms (2707 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Digestive system symptoms (5299 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Infection-related symptoms (1293 causes)

    Symptoms related to Pancreatitis:

    Diabetes (212 causes), Gall bladder symptoms (44 causes), Acute pancreatitis (78 causes), Chronic pancreatitis, Pancreatic pseudocyst, Pancreatic cancer, Epigastric pain (93 causes), Back pain (479 causes), Vomiting (2819 causes), Weight loss (2248 causes), Internal bleeding (22 causes), Steatorrhea (34 causes), Reduced bowel sounds (20 causes), Dehydration (284 causes), High blood pressure (398 causes)

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Pancreatitis:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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