7 Causes of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a banana-shaped organ found deep in the abdomen behind the stomach. It produces enzymes that help with digestion. It is even more well-known for producing insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose, or blood sugar. There are two types of pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis, or AP comes on suddenly and lasts for a short time, while the inflammation of chronic pancreatitis does not heal over time.

The direct cause of pancreatitis is the enzymes irritating the cells of the gland. These enzymes usually don’t become active until they enter the small intestine, but something causes them to switch on while they are still in the pancreas. The condition becomes chronic when the pancreas becomes continually inflamed to the point where its cells are scarred.

People who develop pancreatitis often have more than one risk factor, such as smoking or heavy alcohol consumption. In rare cases, there does not seem to be a reason for the person to contract the disorder. Here are the more common risk factors for pancreatitis:

1. Alcohol

Even moderate amounts of alcohol stresses the biliary system, which contains the liver and the pancreas. Doctors already know that the liver deals with alcohol by breaking it down, and if the liver is overworked through heavy alcohol consumption, it becomes less capable of doing this efficiently. Eventually, the liver can become fatty and scarred. Doctors know that the pancreas also has a role in metabolizing alcohol, but they have not found out the precise mechanism for how alcohol damages the gland. Some believe that alcohol makes the pancreas stop secreting its enzymes, and the enzymes accumulate in the gland and start to digest it. However, they do know that the longer the person drinks the more they are susceptible to bouts of AP.