The pancreas sits behind the stomach. It makes fluids that help to break down food in the small intestine. This fluid can become active in the pancreas and cause irritation and inflammation. This is called pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis is a sudden start of the inflammation. For most this type will pass in a few days.
Acute pancreatitis will often pass in a few days with proper care. Most will have no lasting damage.
Support and Rest
The pancreas needs to rest. Since it is active every time you eat, you may need to adjust your diet. You may be asked to avoid fatty foods or stop eating for a couple days. It may also be hard for you to eat or drink because of nausea and vomiting.
A hospital stay may be recommended to provide the following:
Fluid given through IV
Nutrition with a low fat diet or through a tube that is passed through nose into stomach
Most will only need to be in the hospital for a few days.
Surgery may be needed if you do not respond to rest. It may also be needed to treat the cause.
Surgical options depend on the cause of pancreatitis, but may include:
Percutaneous catheter drainage—fluid is drained from the pancreas.
ERCP—to remove gallstones.
—to remove the gallbladder. May be needed if gallstones were the cause.
Necrosectomy—remove dying or dead tissue from the pancreas.
Pancreatitis can happen again. To decrease your chances of it happening again:
Avoid drinking alcohol.
Do not smoke. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about tools to help you
Pancreatitis may happen again. To help reduce your chances of acute pancreatitis:
Limit intake of alcohol. This is 2 drinks a day or less for men and 1 drink a day or less for women.
If you have high cholesterol, follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This will include:
Limit intake of saturated fact
Regular physical activity
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Smoking can irritate the pancreas.
Reach and keep a healthy weight. Obesity and overweight can increase stress on pancreas.
Pancreatitis. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/pancreatitis/. Updated: August 6, 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.
Pancreatitis. National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/definition-facts. Updated: November 2017. Accessed August 31, 2018.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.