Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that sits behind the stomach. The pancreas produces digestive juices and certain hormones, including insulin, which is responsible for regulating your blood sugar. The pancreas secretes digestive juices into the small intestine and produces hormones, including insulin and glucagon, that control sugar in the body.
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.
They may also have nausea, vomiting, fevers, sweats and have a tender abdomen. They need treatment in hospital.
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.
Last reviewed: November 2016