Our expert says:
Hi there.. pancreatitis (inflammation of he pancreas) is classified as either acute (new onset) or chronic (longer standing). Acute pancreatitis is usually caused either by a small gall stone getting briefly 'stuck' in a segment of the vascular tree, resulting in rapid onset of pain and inflammation or from excessive intake of alcohol. Occasionally, certain drugs, infection, blockages from other causes (cancer, abnormal anatomy), high cholesterol can cause acute pancreatitis as well.
Acute pancreatitis usually settles with the avoidance of alcohol and passing of the stone, leaving no residual structural damage or the medical management of any of the other possible causes.
The most common cause of chronic pancreatitis is alcoholism and because this this usually a long standing problem there may have been repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis over years resulting in eventual structural damage to the pancreas itself, as well as the associated vessels.
The function of the pancreas is to produce various homones, both to aid in the digestive process and the management of blood sugar. Any pancreatic damage can impair these functions leading to severe digestive disturbance and / or diabetes.
Acute pancreatitis is curable whereas chronic pancreatitis, depending on the degree of damage may not be and can have serious consequenses.
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