Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that sits near the stomach and liver. The pancreas produces digestive juices and certain hormones, including insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar.
Most cases of pancreatitis are mild. But in severe cases, pancreatitis can be life threatening. If you have severe abdominal (tummy) pain that lasts for more than 20 minutes, call your doctor or go to the Emergency Department.
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis can be either acute (sudden onset) or chronic (ongoing and longer-term).
People who have acute pancreatitis have sudden, severe upper abdominal pain, often spreading through to the back, and often eased by leaning forward.
People with chronic pancreatitis have recurrent or even continuous upper abdominal pain, or might have repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis.
Treatment options for pancreatitis include fasting, medications or surgery. It’s also important to treat the underlying cause of the pancreatitis, such as by avoiding alcohol or removing gallstones.
If you think you or someone in your care may have acute pancreatitis, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
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Last reviewed: September 2020