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What Is Pancreatitis?

Learn about pancreatitis from gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu, M.D. in this Howcast video about stomach problems and digestive disorders.


Pancreatitis is basically inflammation of the pancreas, and there is a couple different reasons why you get inflammation of the pancreas.

The most common is gallstone pancreatitis. That is when a gallstone slips out of the gallbladder and gets lodged in the duct that drains both the gallbladder and the pancreas.

That back pressure from that obstructing stone causes inflammation within that pancreas and can cause nausea, vomiting, and pain. The pain can be fairly severe, and the illness can be fairly severe.

The other, next common cause of acute pancreatitis is alcohol consumption. A lot of alcoholics can cause inflammation of the pancreas causing pain and can progress to chronic pancreatitis, where they have chronic abdominal pain, nutritional deficiencies and may develop diabetes.

Our pancreas is very delicate organ. We try to protect it by not exposing it to to many toxins such as alcohol, or any environmental toxins. So the pancreas has two roles. One is the exocrine function, and one is the endocrine function.

The endocrine function is basically forming insulin to help in the management of our blood sugars. Any failure within the endocrine pancreas can cause diabetes.

The exocrine pancreas is basically the hormones that are secreted for the pancreas that help to digest fats, and help with digestion in general. The enzymes that are produced by the pancreas are lipase and amylase, and that helps with digestion of carbohydrates.

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