The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and next to the small intestine. The pancreas does two main things:
It releases powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid the digestion of food.
It releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body control how it uses food for energy.
Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Pancreatic damage happens when the digestive enzymes are activated before they are released into the small intestine and begin attacking the pancreas.
Cirrhosis is a serious degenerative disease that occurs when healthy cells in the liver are damaged and replaced by scar tissue, usually as a result of alcohol abuse or chronic hepatitis. As liver cells give way to tough scar tissue, the organ loses its ability to function properly. Severe damage can lead to liver failure and possibly death.
Cirrhosis poses another danger as well: Dense scarring slows the normal flow of blood through the liver, causing blood to find alternate pathways to return...
Acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation that lasts for a short time. It may range from mild discomfort to a severe, life-threatening illness. Most people with acute pancreatitis recover completely after getting the right treatment. In severe cases, acute pancreatitis can result in bleeding into the gland, serious tissue damage, infection, and cyst formation. Severe pancreatitis can also harm other vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Chronic pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis is long-lasting inflammation of the pancreas. It most often happens after an episode of acute pancreatitis. Heavy alcohol drinking is another big cause. Damage to the pancreas from heavy alcohol use may not cause symptoms for many years, but then the person may suddenly develop severe pancreatitis symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis:
Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back; it may be aggravated by eating, especially foods high in fat.
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are similar to those of acute pancreatitis. Patients frequently feel constant pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back. In some patients, the pain may be disabling. Other symptoms are weight loss caused by poor absorption (malabsorption) of food. This malabsorption happens because the gland is not releasing enough enzymes to break down food. Also, diabetes may develop if the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are damaged.