Pancreatitis: Causes & how to prevent it!

Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas, the organs behind the stomach that synthesize digestive enzymes.

It is of two types:

  • Acute Pancreatitis: It is the inflammation of the pancreas marked by severe symptoms but is reversible by proper medication & medical attention.
  • Chronic Pancreatitis: It is a progressive long-standing inflammation of the pancreas that is associated with irreversible damage, structural & functional change of the pancreas.


  • Severe upper abdominal pain
  • Burning pain radiating to the back
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Hiccup
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated breathing rate
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fever & chills
  • Fast heart beat
  • Inflammation of the lining of the abdomen
  • Frequent, oily, foul-smelling bowel movements.


  • Shock
  • Low blood calcium
  • High blood sugar & cholesterol
  • Low oxygen in the blood
  • Inflammation of the lung tissue
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Low blood pressure & higher chance of heart attack
  • Abnormal rhythm of the heart
  • Pancreatic abscess & pus
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction & bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure
  • Clot in the brain
  • Confusion, delusion, coma
  • Anemia
  • Grey-Turner’s Syndrome.


  • Gallstones are the single most common cause for acute pancreatitis.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption is the single most cause for chronic pancreatitis.

Some adverse effects of drugs that can contribute to pancreatitis:

  • Statins
  • Diuretics
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Drugs used in diabetes
  • Antiretroviral drugs
  • Anti-psychotic drugs

Some infections & diseases/disorders that can cause the condition:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Herpes Simplex Virus
  • Herpes Zoster Virus
  • HIV
  • Mumps
  • Salmonella
  • Aspergillus fungus
  • Ascaris parasites
  • High blood calcium
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Cancer of the pancreas
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels in the pancreas
  • Pancreatic stones
  • Cystic fibrosis

Other factors

  • Radiotherapy
  • Scorpion sting
  • Hypothermia
  • Trauma to the pancreas
  • Genetic & autoimmune diseases
  • Malnutrition
  • Ischemia from bypass surgery
  • Pregnancy.


  1. Blood Test & Serum test:
    a) Biochemical factors, like presence of elevated levels of the enzymes, amylase & lipase in the serum along with significant abdominal pain is a positive test for pancreatitis.
    b) Although biochemical markers are not enough for characterizing severity of the condition.
    c) The condition is termed to be alcohol mediated when lipase level rises 2-3 times that of amylase.
  2. Imaging Tests:
    a) CT scan is very important for the differentiation between the severity of the pancreatitis. It utilizes mechanism which can help in identifying necrotic tissue & damage to the organ.
    b) MRI is more helpful in patients that are allergic to contrast media of CT scan. MRI is utilized for visualization of pancreatic fluid collection & vascular complications.
    c) On abdominal ultrasonography, the finding of a bulky pancreas is regarded as diagnostic of acute pancreatitis.


  • Fluid Replacement: Taking into consideration the condition of the patient & comorbidities, aggressive fluid replenishment at the rate of 5-10 mL/kg per hour of isolated Lactated Ringer’s solution to be used.
  • Pain management: Use of IV intervention by opioid drugs, like hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine, etc.
  • No food to be given orally, to be administered through IV route.
  • Assistance in breathing by administering oxygen if level falls below 70mmHg
  • Antibiotics to manage infections that are developed outside of pancreas.
  • In case of presence of gallstones, an ERCP is performed within 24 to 72 hours for successful removal.
  • Surgery on detection of infected necrotic tissue.


  • Mumps vaccine
  • Reduced alcohol intake
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a diet low on fats & sugar
  • Weight loss & exercise
  • Management of conditions like diabetes & hypertension.