Inflammation of the pancreas—a large organ that produces digestive enzymes and hormones—is called pancreatitis. The condition commonly results from gallstones obstructing the release of digestive enzymes. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause pancreatitis. Other causes include trauma, surgery, medications, and even metabolic disorders. Pancreatitis is more common in men than in women. Whether acute or chronic, the condition leads to abdominal pain that can range from mild to severe, and various other signs and symptoms.
People with the disease experience a gnawing pain in their abdomen that radiates toward the back. The pain is felt just under the ribcage. Initially, the pain is tolerable; however, if left untreated, an inflamed pancreas can result in agonizing pain that can only be relieved after administration of medicines. The pain may be worse after drinking or eating foods with a high-fat content. The ache can get very intense when lying flat on the back or while leaning forward. On the other hand, in some cases of acute pancreatitis, patients do not feel much or even any pain. This is more common if the patient has diabetes or has kidney disease.
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