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Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis

Acute vs Chronic Pancreatitis

Our body is one complex and beautiful machine. Each part has its own separate function, and yet each part is completely related to every other part of the body, thus, maintaining our health and allowing us to do our normal activities.

One organ that may not be in the topic of most health discussions yet has a major part to play in our daily lives is the pancreas. In almost all that we do, the pancreas may have something to do with it. This is because the pancreas, although indirectly, is involved in generating energy and other nutrients for us. It also has other functions that are discussed in a short while.

The pancreas, situated just behind the stomach, attached to the small intestines, has a very important job to do. This organ functions both as a secretory and gland organ. The pancreas secretes insulin (hormone which transports glucose to different cells), glucagon (increases sugar levels if the body has a low supply in the blood), and somatostatin (hormone involved in growth).

Furthermore, the pancreas also secretes pancreatic enzymes which help break down food into usable parts. As what I have written earlier, it influences energy and the amount of nutrients to the body. A healthy pancreas means that our body is functioning properly.

There are instances though that pancreatitis occurs. This condition is usually caused by the build-up of pancreatic enzymes that are not drained into the small intestines. This accumulation digests the tissues within the pancreas causing it to become inflamed and infected. It mainly occurs due to excessive drinking, while gall stones are also common causes for its occurrence, causing inflammation. There are two main types of pancreatitis. These are follows, acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis is diagnosed for a sudden occurrence of inflammation of the pancreas that lasts for a few days only. In this case, there is a sudden attack of acute pain in the upper abdominal area that may last for hours or days. Drinking alcohol or eating may only worsen the pain, and lying in a curled position can offer some relief. It resolves on its own.

Chronic pancreatitis when attacks re-occur for a period of time, more than 6 months. The attacks cause scarring and damage to the pancreas that make it susceptible to infection and further inflammation. Some may only feel only abdominal pains throughout the years until such time that the pancreas in fully inflamed. It is usually non-resolving.


1. Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is usually caused by excessive alcohol drinking or gall stones that block the pancreatic ducts leading to the small intestines.

2. In acute pancreatitis, it occurs suddenly, causing acute pain lasting for several hours to days, and resolves on its own.

3. In chronic pancreatitis, it lasts for more than 6 months even up to years, due to constant scarring of the pancreas and inflammation.

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