Gallstones and their link to Pancreatitis.  Gallstones have become increasingly prevalent in the United States due to the fact they are common in people who are overweight, eat too much fat, and eat too little fiber. But did you know that they are often the cause of pancreatitis? The tiny stones, or the sludge they can create, is the most common cause of pancreatitis, which is a swelling of the pancreas.  The pancreas is an important part of the digestive system.

The other causes of pancreatitis include:

  • Alcohol
  • Autoimmune system diseases
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Trauma or Surgery to the Abdomen
  • Uncommon causes:
    • A side-effect to medicines
    • Infections due to parasites
    • Reactions to some procedures done to evaluate the gallbladder or pancreas

Recovery.  The good news is that 80 per cent of people who suffer from an acute case of pancreatitis recover completely.  Very often pain subsides within a week of the flare-up. Unfortunately, those suffering from chronic pancreatitis usually have damage to the pancreas from alcohol ingestion, often leading to loss of pancreatic function. (The Cleveland Clinic) Whether or not alcohol was the cause of the pancreatitis, it is a good idea to avoid it following a pancreatic problem.

An attack of Pancreatitis. The most common symptom of pancreatitis is pain in the upper abdomen that radiates around to the back.  Sometimes the patient feels the dull back pain first. The pain is usually characterized as dull and constant.  Often the pain is aggravated by eating and accompanied by nausea, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.  Fever can develop, as can diabetes, as one of the main roles of the pancreas is to produce insulin. These symptoms can be relieved with treatment, so it is a good idea to get a diagnosis.

If you are experiencing pain in the abdominal area, you should seek medical advice. Often a simple scan of the area is done to understand the cause of the pain.  The physicians Southeast Valley Gastroenterology are trained to diagnose and treat problems such as gallstones and pancreatitis.  You can make an appointment with them by calling (480) 899-9800. You can get more information on their staff and the screenings they offer by visiting