Pancreatitis - Describe Your Experience

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What were your symptoms of pancreatitis?

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What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum - the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with bile - a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder - to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

Normally, digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas do not become active until they reach the small intestine. But when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.

Both forms of pancreatitis occur more often in men than women.

Illustration of the Pancreas

Return to Pancreatitis

See what others are saying

Comment from: Navyman, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 25

I got sick one evening at home, and dealt with the sweating, shakes, and pain for 3 days before my wife took me to the emergency room. I was immediately admitted and stayed there 5 days. My blood pressure upon arrival was 84/58 and I was having trouble standing. The pain in my abdomen was horrific! They hooked me up to a drip for pain management (morphine, I think) and started to hydrate me. I had been a heavy drinker for 10 years or so. I drank, generally, 10 to 15 beers a day, not proud of that. Anyway, I got feeling a bit better after the 5 days, and they let me go home. I worked for the next month to get my strength back. Now, I"m 2 years clean and sober, and I generally feel great, but I"m having some very familiar, very light pains in my abdomen right along my rib cage. I sure hope I don"t have another problem with pancreatitis, but I"m back to the doctor next week. Thanks for everyone for the stories. I actually convinced myself I"m not going to die tonight, anyway.

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Comment from: Addie, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

I am 20 years old and I got pancreatitis in October of last year. We still don"t know what caused my acute case (I thankfully don"t have chronic, at least, we don"t think so) but I"ve tried being healthier with eating and not eating gluten as I"m intolerant to it which is part of why I think this happened. I had been at work one night and I randomly started getting an ache in my side. I was concerned, but thought nothing of it. It got worse and worse before I went to the doctor that week as they fit me into their schedule. They found nothing and told me "I was thinking possibly pancreatitis but your lab tests don"t show it". I was scheduled for a CT scan that next week and sent home. That Friday I had eaten dinner from a bar one night with my dad and about an hour later, I got really bad pain in my stomach. It got so bad that I started to cry and felt sweaty and hot all over. I was in pain for 8 hours, unmoving and just rocking while holding my stomach, before my parents decided it was time to go to the emergency room (ER). Before we could leave, I started puking so we had to wait again before we could get going. I should have been admitted, but they sent me home with pain killers after giving me fluids, and told me it was pancreatitis. The next day, I ended up back in urgent care instead with a fever of 102 - 103, and the doctor there knew I should have been admitted but due to understanding how expensive bills are he did his best to keep me out. We gave me more fluids and pain killers which helped me feel better enough to stay home. I was out for a week or so, before I could start eating food again (as I"d been on a liquid diet) and before I could go to work. I"m really careful now, to make sure that I don"t have this happen again as it was a really, really bad experience.

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