What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation in the pancreas. The Mayo Clinic explains that the pancreas is a long, flat gland behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. It produces enzymes that help digestion and hormones that help regulate the way your body processes sugar. Pancreatitis occurs when these enzymes become activated while inside the pancreas, which damages and inflames the organ.

As scar tissue forms, the pancreas begins to function poorly, which leads to digestive problems (and diabetes in those who do not have it already).

Chronic pancreatitis is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer, a disease that “often has a poor prognosis, even when diagnosed early,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Among other complications of pancreatitis are:

  • Kidney failure
  • Vulnerability to infection
  • Pseudocysts (cyst-like pockets in the pancreas)
  • Malnutrition.
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