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Definition & Facts

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis is short term and may go away in a few days with treatment. Chronic, or long-lasting, pancreatitis can get worse over time and cause lasting damage.

Symptoms & Causes

Pancreatitis symptoms include pain in your upper abdomen that may extend to your back, nausea and vomiting, fever, rapid pulse, and weight loss. Causes include gallstones, heavy alcohol use, medicines, and genetic disorders of the pancreas.


Doctors use your medical history, a physical exam, and lab and imaging tests to diagnose pancreatitis and to find out its causes.


Treatment for pancreatitis may include a hospital stay for intravenous (IV) fluids, pain medicine, and other medicines. Surgery is sometimes needed to treat complications.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

If you have pancreatitis, your health care professional may suggest that you eat a low-fat diet and will advise you not to drink alcoholic beverages.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

Your Digestive System & How it Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

Related Research

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Christopher E. Forsmark, M.D., University of Florida College of Medicine