Pancreatitis

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Pancreatitis

is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas associated with inappropriate release of digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat as well as the release of the hormones glucagon and insulin into the blood stream. These hormones are involved in the blood glucose metabolism.

Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and most often resolves within several days. Most cases of acute pancreatitis are linked to gallstones. Cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol use have been associated with risk of pancreatitis.

Chronic pancreatitis occurs most commonly after an episode of acute pancreatitis and is the result of ongoing inflammation of the pancreas. 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.

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