Alcohol and pancreatitis
The pancreas is the organ in your abdomen that produces the enzymes required for digestion, and insulin, which is needed to control blood sugar levels. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.
Alcohol is thought to be a major contributor to both acute and chronic pancreatitis, which can be extremely painful conditions. Pancreatitis usually presents as an acute episode, but may then progress with further attacks that can lead to chronic pancreatitis.
Excessive consumption of alcohol over a period of several years typically precedes the onset of acute pancreatitis, rather than a one-off binge. Acute symptoms include abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
The major features of chronic pancreatitis are abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhoea and weight loss. Diabetes is often a common complication of pancreatitis, because the damaged pancreas is unable to make insulin, and around third of people with pancreatitis also have some form of diabetes.
As always, you should seek professional medical advice if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, to rule out other conditions that may be causing these symptoms.
Find out more about how alcohol can affect your health.