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General Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach. It helps digest food. It also sends two important hormones (called insulin and glucagon) out to the body. These hormones help control blood sugar.

Pancreatitis is when this organ is irritated and inflamed.

There are two types of pancreatitis:

Each of these have different causes, symptoms and treatments.


Acute pancreatitis is inflammation that happens suddenly. It is more common in children than chronic pancreatitis. It is often only one episode. It can last for a few days or several weeks. It is most often caused by:

  • Injury to the organ
  • Gallstones
  • High levels of calcium
  • Genetics
  • Infection
  • Medication
  • A stone in the pancreas
  • An abnormality in a pancreas duct

> Learn about more causes of sudden inflammation to the pancreas.

Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation that gets worse over time. It can lead to scarring and permanent damage. Causes of chronic pancreatitis can be the same as those for acute pancreatitis. A genetic or structural abnormality can also lead to chronic pancreatitis.

> Learn about more causes of chronic inflammation.


The most common symptom of pancreatitis is sudden onset of upper belly pain. Children can also have vomiting and nausea. Symptoms of both types of pancreatitis include:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Children with chronic pancreatitis can also have diarrhea or oily bowel movements. Pain and symptoms last longer than a week. These symptoms may come and go.

> Learn more about acute or chronic pancreatitis symptoms.


Cincinnati Children’s Pancreas Care Center offers treatment for acute and chronic pancreatitis, including:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if your child is experiencing symptoms. An early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of complications.

You can also call our Pancreas Care Center at 513-803-2123 to learn how we can help treat your child.

Last Updated 03/2023

Reviewed By Angie Turner, RN IV

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