Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that is chronic, or recurring. Chronic pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes attack and destroy the pancreas and nearby tissues, causing scarring and pain. Chronic pancreatitis is typically caused by many years of alcohol abuse, but chronic pancreatitis may also be triggered by only one acute pancreatitis attack, especially if the pancreatic ducts are damaged.

Besides alcohol abuse, chronic pancreatitis may be caused by the following:

  • blocked or narrowed pancreatic duct because of trauma or formed pseudocysts
  • heredity
  • congenital conditions (i.e. pancreas divisum)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia)
  • high levels of blood fats (hyperlipidemia or hypertriglyceridemia)
  • certain autoimmune conditions
  • some drugs

Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by mild to severe pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the back. Patients suffering from pancreatitis may experience constant pain for hours or days. This pain will become worse if a patient drinks alcohol or eats. Patients who experience symptoms of chronic pancreatitis should contact a doctor immediately.

Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weight loss
  • fatty stools

People with chronic pancreatitis often lose weight because their bodies do not secrete enough pancreatic enzymes to break down food, so nutrients are not absorbed normally. With chronic pancreatitis, poor digestion leads to excretion of fat, protein, and sugar into the stool.

Chronic Pancreatitis & Byetta

Chronic pancreatitis is a serious side effect of Byetta, a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. If you or a loved one took Byetta and developed chronic pancreatitis, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Published November 17, 2011 by