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The main symptom of pancreatitis is severe pain in your upper abdomen. This comes on suddenly in acute pancreatitis. You may suddenly start feeling or being sick. You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you have these symptoms. See our Symptoms section for more information.
Pancreatitis can be serious. Most people who get acute pancreatitis (where it comes on suddenly) have a mild illness and recover quickly. But severe acute pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis can go on to cause complications. These can be serious. You can read about the different types of pancreatitis in our About section.
Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. Alcohol is also a common cause, and is the main cause of chronic pancreatitis. There are other things that can increase your risk such as smoking and certain other conditions. You can find out more in our Causes section.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
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- Acute pancreatitis. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last reviewed 15 April 2023
- Chronic pancreatitis. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last reviewed 15 April 2023
- Pancreas anatomy. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com, updated 7 December 2017
- Pancreatitis – acute. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised May 2021
- Pancreatitis – chronic. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised June 2021
- Acute pancreatitis. Patient. patient.info, last updated 10 March 2022
- Chronic pancreatitis. Patient. patient.info, last updated 18 Feb 2022
- Pancreatitis. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). www.nice.org.uk, last updated 16 December 2020
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. NICE British National Formulary. bnf.nice.org.uk, last updated 27 April 2023