Chronic pancreatitis is a medical condition in which the pancreas is persistently inflamed over a long period.

The pancreas is a soft, elongated gland situated at the back of the upper abdominal cavity, behind the stomach. This organ produces chemicals needed to digest food (digestive enzymes), along with the hormone insulin and glucagon.


Key Symptoms

The abdominal pain in chronic pancreatitis has its own set of typical symptoms. Here we list a few main characteristics of abdominal pain in this condition:

• Greatest in the upper abdomen
• May last from hours to days
• Eventually may be continuous
• May worsen with eating or drinking
• May worsen with alcohol consumption
• May radiate to the back

Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:

• Diabetes
• Nausea and vomiting
• Vomiting after meals
• Poor pancreatic function
• Unintentional weight loss
• Fatty stools
• Pale or clay-colored stools


Causative Factors

Long-term excessive alcohol consumption is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis. In fact, the risk of developing chronic pancreatitis is directly associated to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Other main causes of chronic pancreatitis include:

• High levels of calcium in the blood
• Abnormalities in anatomy present at birth
• Blocked or narrowed pancreatic duct due to trauma or pseudocysts
• Systemic disease, such as cystic fibrosis
• Heredity
• High blood fats or Hypertriglyceridaemia
• Side effects of drugs
• No specific cause known (idiopathic pancreatitis)