Ohio State offers expert diagnosis and treatment for conditions of the pancreas.

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach, near the first section of the small intestine. It sends digestive juices into the small intestine that help break down food. The pancreas also releases hormones that help control blood sugar levels.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It can occur when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis can be acute (sudden and severe) or chronic (frequent, long lasting and slow to develop). Either form is serious and can lead to complications.

Acute pancreatitis may come on suddenly and usually goes away in a few days with treatment. It is often caused by gallstones. Treatment may require a short hospital stay for intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics and medicines to relieve pain.

Common symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Chronic pancreatitis is an ongoing condition that usually gets worse over time and can lead to permanent damage. The most common cause is heavy alcohol use. Other causes include cystic fibrosis and other inherited disorders, high levels of calcium or fats in the blood, some medicines and autoimmune conditions.

Treatment may include a short hospital stay for IV fluids, medicines to relieve pain and nutritional support. Long-term treatment may include enzyme therapy, nutritional changes, quitting smoking and abstinence from alcohol.

Common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Oily stools
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