Pancreatitis - Symptoms

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What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis causes upper abdominal pain which can range from mild to severe.

The pain may come on suddenly or it may develop gradually. Often, the pain will start or worsen after eating, which can also occur with gallbladder or ulcer pain. Abdominal pain tends to be the hallmark of acute pancreatitis. People with acute pancreatitis usually feel very ill.

Signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis may include:

  • Abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Worsening pain after eating
  • Tenderness to touch of the abdomen
  • Fever and chills
  • Weakness and lethargy

In chronic pancreatitis, abdominal pain also can be present, but it is often not as severe, and some people may not have any pain at all.

Signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Foul smelling, oily stool
Return to Pancreatitis

See what others are saying

Comment from: LaVerne, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: December 08

My experience started with achalasia, a condition which caused me to be unable to swallow properly. It took a while and many tests to diagnose but treatment was as follows; stretching the esophagus and injecting Botox into the muscle which should open when food enters the month but did not. This relaxed the muscle for about six months or a bit longer and then I would have another shot. As time passed I was terribly bothered by hiatal hernia which I had for many years. Eventually the pain was so severe and frequent that I had surgery to repair that and to permanently open the offending muscle. The food would go directly to my stomach. About 3 years after the surgery I began to have what I now call pancreatic attacks but did not know at the time. My internal medicine doctor referred me to a surgeon believing it to be gall stones. However, I went back to my gastroenterologist who discovered some type of blockage in the duct between the pancreas and gall bladder. Several tests did not indicate the nature of the blockage. A surgical procedure was performed to correct the blockage. It turned out that the duct had shriveled and closed. To correct this the doctor permanently opened the duct. That night I had a severe pancreatic attack and was admitted back to the hospital. Several other things ensued including a urinary tract infection, congestive heart failure, a potassium level of 1, high liver enzymes and a few other things. All of those things were normalized, but I continue to have occasional pancreas attacks with classic symptoms. They always follow the pattern of pain under the right breast bone and in the back. Occasionally I have to vomit. Then I feel better. I cannot lie down when these occur. It is interesting that the pain will continue for several hours and suddenly subside no matter what I have tried to stop it. Sometimes they are quite frequent and other times they are about a month apart. There doesn't seem to be any specific cause and treatment so far does not seem successful.

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Comment from: Curly, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I woke up and started vomiting immediately. My stomach just did not feel right. The vomiting would not stop and diarrhea began. The pain in my abdomen was getting worse and worse. I thought my appendix had exploded or I had an ovary stuck in my fallopian tube or something. I had trouble breathing, the vomiting continued, and the pain was getting worse and worse. I soaked through two thermal shirts. Finally I just lay down on the bathroom floor, feeling like I was going to pass out. My husband and son helped me get into our van. I couldn't stand up straight, the pain was so bad. I entered the emergency room, had x-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and blood tests. Bottom line, acute pancreatitis with lipase level at 30,000! I just got home today alter 12 days in the hospital. What an experience!

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