What Is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is the inflammation (redness and swelling) of your pancreas, the gland that makes digestive enzymes and hormones that control your blood sugar. The pancreas is located behind the stomach, near the juncture of the stomach and the small intestine.

Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes created by the pancreas start attacking the pancreas itself, rather than breaking down food in the small intestine. There are two types of pancreatitis:

  • Acute pancreatitis: This is a severe but short-lived attack that can cause extreme pain, nausea, rapid heart rate and other symptoms. After the attack, the pancreas returns to normal.
  • Chronic pancreatitis: This is a long-term condition that comes and goes over time. It can cause scarring of the pancreas and, in serious cases, interfere with the production of enzymes and insulin.