Alcoholism is not the only cause of chronic pancreatitis. The main causes of chronic pancreatitis are:
- A blocked or narrowed pancreatic duct due to trauma or the formation of pseudocysts
- Unknown cause (idiopathic).
Other causes of chronic pancreatitis are:
- Congenital conditions (such as pancreas divisum)
- Cystic fibrosis
- High levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia)
- High levels of blood fats (hyperlipidemia or hypertriglyceridemia)
- Some drugs
- Certain autoimmune conditions.
(Click Causes of Chronic Pancreatitis for more information.)
Most people with chronic pancreatitis have symptoms that include abdominal pain. Some people, though, may have no pain at all. The pain may get worse when eating or drinking, spread to the back, or become constant and disabling.
In certain cases, abdominal pain goes away as the condition advances, probably because the pancreas is no longer making digestive enzymes.
Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:
- Weight loss
- Fatty stools.
(To learn more about the possible symptoms of this condition, click Chronic Pancreatitis Symptoms.)
Besides asking about a person's medical history and doing a physical exam, a doctor will use certain tests to help diagnose chronic pancreatitis.
In more advanced stages of chronic pancreatitis, when diabetes and malabsorption occur, a doctor can use a number of blood, urine, and stool tests to help diagnose chronic pancreatitis and to monitor its progression.
(Click Chronic Pancreatitis Diagnosis for more information on this topic.)