DefinitionThe pancreas is a long, flat, pear-shaped organ located behind the stomach. It makes digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive inflammation of the pancreas marked by frequent acute attacks and risk of permanent organ damage.
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CausesChronic pancreatitis may result from injury, chronic infection, drug or toxic exposure, autoimmune disease, or blockage of the pancreas. In some cases it is genetic and sometimes has no known cause.
Risk FactorsChronic pancreatitis is more common in men. Other factors that may increase your risk of chronic pancreatitis include:Personal health history, such as:
- Excess alcohol intake
- Recurrent attacks of acute pancreatitis
- Family history of:
- Hyperparathyroidism associated with chronic pancreatitis
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Chronic kidney disease
- Congenital conditions, such as pancreas divisum
- Ischemia—insufficient blood supply to the pancreas
- Hyperlipidemia—elevated blood fat levels
- Hypertriglyceridemia—elevated blood triglyceride levels
- Hypercalcemia—elevated blood calcium levels
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pseudocysts—build up of fluids and debris
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