Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that produces several enzymes to aid in the digestion of food, as well as the hormone insulin, which controls the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The pancreas is located in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach. When the pancreas is inflamed, the body is not able to absorb the nutrients it needs.

Pancreatitis may be either acute (sudden and severe) or chronic. Both types of pancreatitis can cause bleeding and tissue death in or around the pancreas. Mild attacks of acute pancreatitis can improve on their own, or with dietary changes. In the case of recurring pancreatitis, however, long-term damage to the pancreas is common, sometimes leading to malnutrition and diabetes.

Necrotizing pancreatitis (in which pancreatic tissue dies) can lead to cyst-like pockets and abscesses. Because of the location of the pancreas, inflammation spreads easily. In severe cases, fluid-containing toxins and enzymes leak from the pancreas through the abdomen. This can damage blood vessels and lead to internal bleeding, which may be life threatening.

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Review Date: 3/24/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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