Chronic Pancreatitis

Essay by lovinemi7Junior High, 9th gradeA, March 2008

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

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 has two primary functions: To secrete powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine through a tube called the pancreatic duct to aid the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fat; and to release the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones are involved in blood glucose metabolism, regulating how the body stores and uses food for energy. 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" the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.

Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that occurs over a short period of time. In the majority of cases, acute pancreatitis is caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use.

Other causes include medications, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders, and surgery. Some symptoms of acute pancreatitis are:

Upper abdominal pain that radiates (travels) to their back. Patients may describe this as pain aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.

Swollen and tender abdomen

Nausea and vomiting


Increased heart rate

Chronic pancreatitis occurs most commonly after an episode of acute pancreatitis and is the result of ongoing inflammation of the pancreas. In more than 70% of the cases, chronic pancreatitis is caused by prolonged alcohol use. Other, less common causes include metabolic disorders. Damage to the pancreas from excessive alcohol use may not cause symptoms for many years, but then the person may suddenly develop severe pancreatitis symptoms, including severe pain and loss of pancreatic function, resulting in digestion and blood sugar abnormalities. The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are...