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Pancreatitis - Cause

Normally, the structure of the pancreas camera.gif and the pancreatic duct prevent digestive enzymes from damaging the pancreas. But certain conditions can develop that cause damage and pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis

Most attacks of pancreatitis are caused by gallstones camera.gif that block the flow of pancreatic enzymes or by excessive amounts of alcohol. Sudden (acute) pancreatitis may happen after a drinking binge or after many episodes of heavy drinking.

Other causes of acute pancreatitis are:

Sometimes the cause is not known.

Chronic pancreatitis

Excessive alcohol use is the major cause of ongoing pancreatitis (chronic pancreatitis).1 Many experts believe that other things—such as a high-fat diet or smoking—play a role in the disease.

Experts don't know how alcohol irritates the pancreas. Most believe that alcohol either causes enzymes to back up into the pancreas or changes the chemistry of the enzymes, causing them to inflame the pancreas.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 31, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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