Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Genetics can play a role in the development of pancreatitis, as some people may be predisposed to developing the condition due to their family history. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing the condition significantly. Signs and symptoms of pancreatitis may vary, depending on which type you experience. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have an acute onset or persistent abdominal pain. Seek immediate medical help if your abdominal pain is so severe that you can't sit still or find a position that makes you more comfortable.