AP - Acute pancreatitis, Acute pancreatitis (disorder),acute pancreatitis NOS (disorder), acute pancreatitis (disorder), acute pancreatitis (disorder) [Ambiguous], acute necrotizing pancreatitis, acute necrotizing pancreatitis (disorder), PANCREATITIS NECROTIZING, acute pancreatitis NOS, acute pancreatitis unspecified (disorder),

Acute pancreatitis is a serious condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed over a short period of time. The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach and below the ribcage.

Most people with acute pancreatitis improve within a week and experience no further problems, but severe cases can have serious complications and can even be fatal.


Acute pancreatitis is different to  Pancreatitis, chronic , where the inflammation of the pancreas persists for many years.

The most common symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:

  • suddenly getting severe pain in the centre of your abdomen (tummy)
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea

If this isn't possible, contact  NHS111 or your local  out-of-hours service for advice.

Why it happens

It's thought that acute pancreatitis occurs when a problem develops with some of the enzymes (chemicals) in the pancreas, which causes them to try to digest the organ.

Acutepancreatitisis most often linked to:

  • gallstones which accounts for around half of all cases
  • alcohol consumption which accounts for about a quarter of all cases

By reducing your alcohol intake and altering your diet to make gallstones less likely, you canhelp to reduce your chances of developing acute pancreatitis.

However, one in five cases are severe andcan result in life-threatening complications, such asmultiple organ failure.

In severe cases where complications develop, there's a high risk of the condition being fatal. In England, just over 1,000 people die from acute pancreatitis every year.

If a person survives the effects of severe acute pancreatitis, it's likely to be several weeks or months before they're well enough to leave hospital.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016