Acute pancreatitis

What is it?

Pancreas is a small gland situated just behind the stomach and close to the first part of the intestines called duodenum. It makes enzymes which help in digestion and a hormone insulin which help to metabolise glucose. Pancreatitis occurs when the enzymes damage the pancreas, which causes inflammation. In very severe cases, pancreatitis can result in bleeding into the gland itself; serious tissue damage, infection and fluid collections may occur. Severe pancreatitis can result in damage to other vital organs such as the heart, lung and kidneys. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and is a short-term condition. Heavy drinking over many years can cause repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis is usually a short-term condition, but it can recur if you continue to drink alcohol.

What are the symptoms?

  • A severe, dull pain around the top of the stomach that develops suddenly and travels along your back or below your left shoulder blade. * Eating or drinking may also make you feel worse very quickly, especially fatty foods.
  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Indigestion
  • A high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
  • Tenderness or swelling of the abdomen (tummy)

Home Remedy


  • Eat 2 or 3 raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach. Also, include garlic in your cooking or take a supplement after consulting a doctor.
  • Eat 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free yogurt that contains active cultures (probiotics or beneficial bacteria) daily.
  • Include spinach in your daily diet for its iron and vitamin B content, the two nutrients that help pancreas to function properly.
  • Include blueberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red grapes and reishi mushrooms in your daily diet,
  • Drink 2 to 3 cups of licorice root tea each day or take a supplement after speaking to your doctor.
  • Drink 2 to 3 cups of licorice root tea each day or take a supplement after speaking to your doctor.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of milk and drink it once each day.


  • As acute pancreatitis is often caused by gallstones or drinking too much alcohol. A healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of developing the condition.
  • The most effective way of preventing gallstones is by eating a balanced diet that includes at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Your diet should also include whole grains – found in wholemeal bread, oats and brown rice. This helps lower the amount of cholesterol in your body.
  • Because there seems to be a link between having high cholesterol and developing gallstones, you should avoid eating too many fatty foods with a high cholesterol content.
  • Being overweight also increases your chances of developing gallstones. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise to reduce your risk of developing the condition.
  • Cutting back on drinking alcohol can reduce your risk of developing acute pancreatitis by helping to prevent your pancreas being damaged.
  • If you’ve had acute pancreatitis caused by drinking too much alcohol, you should avoid it completely.
  • It’s recommended that you: don’t drink more than 14 units a week spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager or a pub measure (25ml) of spirits. A small (135ml) glass of wine or an alcopop is 1.5 units

Things to watch out for

See a GP immediately if you suddenly develop severe abdominal pain. If this isn’t possible, contact 000 for advice.

Think you might have Acute pancreatitis?

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Think you have Acute pancreatitis?