A disease of the endocrine system, pancreatitis can cause severe abdominal pain, fever and nausea and vomiting. Pancreatitis develops when the digestive juices that your pancreas makes actually begins to break down the organ itself. This disease, which can either be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), can cause internal bleeding, infection, tissue scarring and organ failure. Chronic pancreatitis actually causes the pancreas to slowly destroy itself. Gallstones that block the pancreatic duct, a tube that connects the pancreas to part of the small intestine, can cause acute pancreatitis. However, heavy alcohol use is a primary cause of both acute and chronic pancreatitis. Several days in the hospital can help resolve acute pancreatitis, but chronic pancreatitis can be much more difficult to treat, especially if the patient is an alcoholic. The surgical removal of certain nerves may be needed to relieve the severe abdominal pain associated with chronic pancreatitis.