Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine



Pancreatitis attacks the pancreas gland, located behind the stomach in the upper abdomen, with inflammation or infection. The pancreas is essential in the process of digestion and metabolism and both these functions can be affected by an inflamed or infected pancreas. The most common causes of developing pancreatitis are heavy alcohol consumption and gallstones.

The conditions of pancreatitis can fall into two categories:

  • Acute pancreatitis - is characterized by a sudden severe pain in the abdomen which may last hours or days. Symptoms include:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Swollen, tender abdomen
    • Dehydration
    • Low blood pressure
  • Chronic pancreatitis - is characterized by long term damage to the pancreas that actually destroys the gland as well as the surrounding tissues. Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may result in:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Significant weight loss
    • Irregular stools which can worsen with the consumption of foods and drinks.

What are the treatment options for acute and chronic pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis:

  • Hospital admittance
  • Medications through IV
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics for infection
  • Nasogastric (NG) tube used as a suction to remove juices from the intestine

Chronic pancreatitis:

  • High carbohydrate low fat diet
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol
  • Insulin shots are given if the body is not producing enough insulin
  • Pain medications