Chronic pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas (a small organ located behind the stomach and below the ribcage) becomes permanently damaged from inflammation.

It's different to acute pancreatitis , where the inflammation is only short-term.

The most common symptom of chronic pancreatitis is repeated episodes of abdominal(tummy) pain, which can be severe.

Other symptoms tend to develop as the damage to the pancreas progresses, such as producing greasy, foul-smelling stools.

This is because heavy drinking over a number of years can repeatedly damage the pancreas.

Less common causes include:

  • smoking
  • a problem with the immune system, causing it to attack the pancreas
  • an inheritedgenetic mutation disrupting the functions of the pancreas

Inas many as3 out of 10 people with the condition, the cause cannot be identified this is known as "idiopathic" chronic pancreatitis.

Surgery is sometimes needed to treat severe chronic pain that doesn't respond to painkillers.

However, the pain can be difficult to treat and can seriously affect your quality of life.

People who don't smoke cigarettes and avoid drinking alcohol tend to experience less pain and live longer than those who continue to drink and smoke after receiving a diagnosis.

It's important to speak to your GP if you're experiencing stress , anxiety or depression caused by chronic pancreatitis.

Diabetes is a common complication of chronic pancreatitis and affects about a third of people with the condition. It occurs when the pancreas is damaged and unable to produce insulin.

People with chronic pancreatitis also have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer .


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016