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Pancreatitis (cont.)

Cause

Normally, the structure of the pancreasClick here to see an illustration. and the pancreatic duct prevent digestive enzymes from damaging the pancreas. But certain conditions can develop that cause damage and pancreatitis.

Acute pancreatitis

Most attacks of pancreatitis are caused by gallstonesClick here to see an illustration. that block the flow of pancreatic enzymes or by excessive amounts of alcohol. Sudden (acute) pancreatitis may happen after a drinking binge or after many episodes of heavy drinking.

Other causes of acute pancreatitis are:

Sometimes the cause is not known.

Chronic pancreatitis

Excessive alcohol use is the major cause of ongoing pancreatitis (chronic pancreatitis).1 Many experts believe that other things—such as a high-fat diet or smoking—play a role in the disease.

Experts don't know how alcohol irritates the pancreas. Most believe that alcohol either causes enzymes to back up into the pancreas or changes the chemistry of the enzymes, causing them to inflame the pancreas.

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