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Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can be acute (sudden and temporary) or chronic (long-lasting).

Acute pancreatitis usually heals after a few days of treatment in the hospital. Chronic pancreatitis does not heal, but those who have it can take steps to manage their symptoms.

Pancreatitis: what you should know

  • Heavy alcohol use is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis, which usually develops in people between 30 and 40 years old.
  • Gallstones, or tiny clumps of hardened bile, are the main cause of acute pancreatitis. Heavy alcohol use is another common cause.
  • The symptoms of pancreatitis include intense abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and unexplained weight loss.
  • Chronic pancreatitis causes permanent damage to pancreatic tissues, which can lead to diabetes. Doctors and dieticians at Rush can help you minimize such damage.

Care for pancreatitis at Rush

People with acute pancreatitis generally feel very ill and need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days to receive fluids and medications.

If gallstones have caused your pancreatitis, you will also need surgery to have your gallbladder removed.

If you have chronic pancreatitis, your care at Rush might involve one or more of the following:

  • Support for giving up tobacco and alcohol
  • Support for making changes to your diet
  • Synthetic pancreatic enzymes to replace those that damaged pancreatic tissue might no longer be able to make
  • Hospitalization to receive fluids, pain medications and nutritional support

Departments and programs that treat this condition