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Pancreatitis (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Several factors can increase your risk of pancreatitis, including:

  • Gallstones. A small gallstone can move far enough into the bile duct to block the flow of pancreatic enzymes into the small intestine.
  • Alcohol abuse. The amount needed to cause pancreatitis is not known. Alcohol tolerance varies from one person to another. Moderate consumption is considered no more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day for men and 1 a day for women and older people.
  • A high level of fat (triglycerides) in the blood.
  • Taking certain medicines, including estrogen therapy and some antibiotics.
  • Structural problems of the pancreas or the bile and pancreatic ducts, especially a condition in which the pancreas is divided and has two main ducts (pancreas divisum).

When To Call a Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have severe belly (abdominal) pain with vomiting that does not go away after a few hours, or mild to moderate pain that does not improve with home treatment after a couple of days. These symptoms may be caused by pancreatitis.

Watchful waiting

Pancreatitis can be a severe, potentially life-threatening illness. It is not appropriate to take a wait-and-see approach, which is called watchful waiting, if you have severe pain in the upper areaClick here to see an illustration. of the abdomen that does not go away in a few hours.

Who to see

The following health professionals can diagnose and treat pancreatitis:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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