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The pancreas, located in the abdomen, is responsible for the production of digestive juices and the hormones insulin and glucagon. Inflammation of the pancreas leads to a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is usually a milder form of pancreatitis, characterized by sudden and severe abdominal pain. Other symptoms include fever, vomiting, nausea, sweating, swelling in the abdominal region, feeling of fullness due to gas, mild jaundice and clay-coloured stools.

Acute pancreatitis is most often caused by excessive intake of alcohol, genetic factors, autoimmune problems, blockage of the pancreatic duct or common bile duct, which drains digestive enzymes from the pancreas into the intestine, other conditions such as cystic fibrosis and certain medications such as oestrogens and corticosteroids. Acute pancreatitis affects men more often than women.

Acute pancreatitis is diagnosed by various laboratory tests that measure the levels of pancreatic enzyme, and imaging techniques, such as CT scan, MRI and ultrasound, which indicate inflammation of the pancreas.

Treatment of acute pancreatitis is directed towards reducing the inflammation and treating the underlying cause of the condition. Mild cases may require hospital admission, where you will be given pain medication and intravenous fluids, and closely monitored for recovery from your symptoms. Your doctor will stop food and fluid through the mouth to limit the activity of the pancreas. In severe cases, antibiotics may be administered and surgery performed to remove the infected and damaged pancreas, and remove the obstruction blocking the pancreatic ducts.

Once there is improvement in the attack, one should completely avoid smoking, alcoholic drinks, and fatty foods.


  • Medical Board of Australia
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • American Gastroenterological Association
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