Pancreatitis is a rare disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Symptoms of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid pulse. Treatment of pancreatitis often requires hospitalization. Read more: Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis Article
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Picture of Pancreas
Front View of the Pancreas. The pancreas is about 6 inches long and sits across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. See...
Picture of Pancreas
A fish-shaped spongy grayish-pink organ about 6 inches (15 cm) long that stretches across the back of the abdomen, behind the...
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Related Disease Conditions
Cystic fibrosis is a disease of the mucus and sweat glands. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease. The outcome of the disease leaves the body malnourished, with bulky and fouls smelling stools, vitamin insufficiency, gas, painful or swollen abdomen, infertility, susceptible to heat emergencies, and respiratory failure. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, treatment of symptoms is used to manage the disease.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. There can be just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or any combination. The majority of gallstones do not cause signs or symptoms; however, when they do occur the primary sign is biliary colic. Symptoms of biliary colic are constant pain for 15 minutes to 4-5 hours, and it may vary in intensity; nausea, severe pain that does not worsen with movement; and pain beneath the sternum. Treatment of gallstones depends upon the patient and the clinical situation.
Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause early symptoms. Typically, pancreatic cancer has metastasized (spread to adjacent organs, such as the liver) by the time most people receive a dignosis of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms and signs usually appear later in the course of the disease and include jaundice, back pain, nausea, weight loss, itching, and loss of appetite. Treatment depends upon the type of pancreatic cancer but may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.
Pancreas divisum is a common congenital anomaly (an anomaly that is present at birth) of the pancreatic duct(s). The human embryo starts life with two ducts in the pancreas; the ventral duct and the dorsal duct. In more than 90% of the embryos, the dorsal and the ventral ducts will fuse to form one main pancreatic duct. In approximately 10% of embryos, the dorsal and the ventral ducts fail to fuse. Failure of the ventral and the dorsal pancreatic ducts to fuse is called pancreas divisum (because the pancreas is drained by two ducts). In pancreas divisum, the ventral duct drains into the major papilla, while the dorsal duct drains into a separate minor papilla. The majority of individuals born with pancreas divisum experience no symptoms throughout life, will remain undiagnosed and will not require treatment. A small number of patients with pancreas divisum will experience repeated episodes of pancreatitis.
What Causes Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is blood pressure that is so low that it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting if not enough blood is getting to the brain. Diseases and medications can also cause low blood pressure. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys; the organs do not function normally and may be permanently damaged.
Weber-Christian disease is a rare inflammatory disease that affects the body's fat tissues. It's also known as relapsing febrile nodular panniculitis syndrome and idiopathic lobular panniculitis. The disorder appears on the skin as red or purple tender, raised lumps. The thighs and lower legs are the most frequently affected areas. Other symptoms may include: nausea, vomiting, weight loss, joint pain, and abdominal pain. Though there is no cure for the disease, inflammation may be treated with various anti-inflammatory medications.
Gastroparesis is a medical condition in which the muscle of the stomach is paralyzed by a disease of either the stomach muscle itself or the nerves controlling the muscle. As a consequence, food and secretions do not empty normally from the stomach. Gastroparesis symptoms are nausea and vomiting; abdominal bloating, and pain can result.
Alcoholic (Alcoholism) and Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis. Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining around the lungs, is associated with sharp chest pain upon breathing in. Cough, chest tenderness, and shortness of breath are other symptoms associated with pleurisy. Pleurisy pain can be managed with pain medication and by external splinting of the chest wall.
The Digestion Process (Parts, Organs, and Functions)
Digestion is the complex process of turning the food you eat into the energy you need to survive. The digestive process also involves creating waste to be eliminated, and is made of a series of muscles that coordinate the movement of food. Learn more about digestion and the body parts that make it possible, including the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, anus, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Symptoms of 12 Serious Diseases and Health Problems
Learn how to recognize early warning signs and symptoms of serious diseases and health problems, for example, chronic cough, headache, chest pain, nausea, stool color or consistency changes, heartburn, skin moles, anxiety, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, delusions, lightheadedness, night sweats, eye problems, confusion, depression, severe pelvic or abdominal pain, unusual vaginal discharge, and nipple changes. The symptoms and signs of serious health problems can be caused by strokes, heart attacks, cancers, reproductive problems in females (for example, cancers, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and sexually transmitted diseases or STDs), breast problems (for example, breast cancer and non-cancer related diseases), lung diseases (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, lung cancer, emphysema, and asthma), stomach or digestive diseases (for example, cancers, gallbladder, liver, and pancreatic diseases, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease), bladder problems (for example, urinary incontinence, and kidney infections), skin cancer, muscle and joint problems, emotional problems or mental illness (for example, postpartum depression, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mania, and schizophrenia), and headache disorders (for example, migraines, or "the worst headache of your life), and eating disorders and weight problems (for example, anorexia or bulimia).
ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome)
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a lung condition in which trauma to the lungs leads to inflammation of the lungs, accumulation of fluid in the alveolar air sacs, low blood oxygen, and respiratory distress. ARDS can be life-threatening. Signs and symptoms of are shortness of breath and low levels of oxygen in the blood, which can cause your organs to fail. Causes of ARDS include: Pneumonia Aspiration into the lungs Severe blow to the chest Sepsis Severe injury with shock Drug overdose Inflamed pancreas Other lung conditions and infections Burns Sepsis Near drowning Fractures There have been genetic factors linked to ARDS. Treatment for includes supplemental oxygen, and/or medication. According to some studies, survival rates for ARDS depend upon the cause associated with it, but can vary from 48% to 68%.REFERENCES: Harman, EM, MD. "Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Clinical Presentation." Medscape. Updated: Aug 11, 2016. Harman, EM, MD. "Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome." Medscape. Updated: Aug 11, 2016. PubMed Health. "ARDS." Updated: Jun 11, 2014. Reynolds, HN. et al. Acute respiratory distress syndrome: estimated incidence and mortality rate in a 5 million-person population base. Crit Care. 1998; 2(1): 29–34. Published online 1998 Mar 12. doi: 10.1186/cc121
Pancreatic cysts are collections of fluid within the pancreas. Some are benign, malignant, or pseudocysts. There are two major types of pancreatic cysts, 1) pseudocysts (inflammatory) and 2) true cysts (non-inflammatory). Symptoms of pancreatic cysts include abdominal pain, jaundice, fever, chills, and sepsis. Treatment depends on the type of cyst, and patient health.
High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar is a serious health problem for diabetics. There are two types of hyperglycemia, 1) fasting, and 2)postprandial or after meal hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can also lead to ketoacidosis or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). There are a variety of causes of hyperglycemia in people with diabetes. Symptoms of high blood sugar may include increased thirst, headaches, blurred vision, and frequent urination.Treatment can be achieved through lifestyle changes or medications changes. Carefully monitoring blood glucose levels is key to prevention.
Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form
Stool color changes can very from green, red, maroon, yellow, white, or black. Causes of changes of stool color can range from foods a person eats, medication, diseases or conditions, pregnancy, cancer, or tumors. Stool can also have texture changes such as greasy or floating stools. Stool that has a uncharacteristically foul odor may be caused by infections such as giardiasis or medical conditions.
Duodenal diverticula (extramural or intramural), or duodenal diverticulum, is a pouch that is attached to the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). The cause of extramural diverticula is not clear, however, it may be congenital. Complications caused by duodenal diverticulum include rupture, gallstones, or pancreatitis. Extramural duodenal diverticula has no symptoms. Treatment is generally surgery.
Choledochal cysts are cysts of the bile ducts. There are several different types of choledochal cysts. These cysts are congenital, however, their cause is not known. Symptoms of choledochal cysts in infants include an enlarged liver and jaundice. In older people, the cysts cause abdominal pain, jaundice, cholangitis, gallstones, and pancreatitis. Treatment for choledochal cysts is surgery.
Hypercalcemia (Elevated Calcium Levels)
Hypercalcemia is a condition in which calcium levels in the blood are elevated. Hypercalcemia is associated with other conditions such as hyperparathyroidism, lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney failure, and elevated levels of vitamin D. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, and kidney stones. Treatment depends on the cause of hypercalcemia.
Ascites, the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity is most commonly caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Some of the other causes of ascites include portal hypertension, congestive heart failure, blood clots, and pancreatitis. The most common symptoms include increased abdominal girth and size, abdominal bloating, and abdominal pain. Treatment depends on the cause of ascites.
Gallbladder Pain (Gall Bladder Pain)
Gallbladder pain (often misspelled "gall bladder") is generally produced by of five problems, biliary colic, cholecystitis, gallstones, and pancreatitis. Causes of gallbladder pain include intermittent blockage of ducts by gallstones or gallstone inflammation and/or sludge that also may involve irritation or infection of surrounding tissues, or when a bile duct is completely blocked. Treatment of gallbladder depends on the cause, which may include surgery.
A parasite names Ascaris lumbricoides causes ascariasis. Symptoms and signs include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting, fever, and passage of parasites and eggs in stool. Treatment involves taking oral medications for one to three days.
Peritonitis is a bacterial infection inside of the abdomen. Some doctors choose to group the causes of peritonitis into five categories; 1) primary peritonitis, 2) secondary peritonitis, 3) tertiary peritonitis, 4) chemical (sterile) peritonitis, and 5) peritoneal abscess. Others do not categorize peritonitis, they use a term to describe the disease in front or behind the word peritonitis. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment is generally with antibiotics.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI is a condition in which a person's pancreas can't produce or secrete certain enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract, which results in the inability to digest and absorb some minerals, vitamins, and fats from food. Symptoms of EPI include diarrhea, bloating, excessive gas, bone pain, and foul smelling bowel movements. Treatment for EPI is PERT therapy.
Lipodystrophy (Acquired, Generalized, Inherited)
Lipodystrophy is a syndrome in which fat deposits accumulate all over the body, or sometimes just portions of it, like just the upper or lower body, or places on the skin where you give yourself daily allergy or insulin shots). You can be born with the generalized congenital or inherited type, or you can acquire it from HIV treatment drugs, infections, autoimmune diseases, trauma, or from repeated injections in the same place on the skin. The symptoms, treatment, and management depend upon the patient's type of lipodystrophy.
Kidney Pain vs. Back Pain
The signs and symptoms of kidney pain and back pain depend upon the underlying cause. Doctors may use blood tests, X-rays, CT, and/or MRI to diagnose kidney pain and back pain. Treatment may include rest, ice, stretching, muscle strengthening, and pain-relieving medications.
Local ResourcesFind a local Gastroenterologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)
- Chest X-Ray
- ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography)
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan)
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
- Endoscopic Ultrasound
- CA 125 Ovarian Tumor Marker Blood Test
- Triglycerides (Tests and Lowering Your Triglyceride Levels)
- Duodenal Biliary Drainage
- How Long Can You Leave a Biliary Stent In?
- What Is a Longitudinal Pancreaticojejunostomy?
- Abdominal Pain
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach)
- Pleurisy (Pleuritis)
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
- How to Choose a Doctor
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Chronic Pain
- Stool Color & Texture Changes (Black, Red, Maroon, Green, Yellow, Gray, Tarry, Sticky)
- Stomach Cramps
- Distended Stomach (Abdominal Distention)
- Tightness in Chest
- Abdominal Pain Causes
- Ashcroft Surgery for Gallstone Pancreatitis
- Doctors Answer Digestion Questions
- What Is Biliary Sludge?
- What Is an ERCP Procedure For Pancreatitis?
- Can MRI Find Pancreatic Duct Stones?
- Can Gallbladder Problems Cause Blood Clots?
- Abdominal Pain: Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Ask the Experts - Gastroentrology (Digestion)
Medications & Supplements
- hyoscyamine sublingual (Levbid, Levsin)
- hyoscyamine - oral, Anaspaz, Cystospaz, Donnamar,
- pancrelipase enteric-coated capsule - oral, Creon, Ultrase, Zenpep, Zymase
- atropine (Atreza)
- calcium supplement/vitamin d - oral, Citracal + D, Os-Cal, Oyster S
- Digestive Enzymes Oral
- hyoscyamine - disintegrating oral tablet, Nulev
- Fibrates (Fibric Acid)
- Digestive enzymes vs. omeprazole (Prilosec)
- Side Effects of Tygacil (tigecycline)
- Side Effects of Lopid (gemfibrozil)
Prevention & Wellness
- Blood Test Might Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- Belly Fat Can Lead to a Sudden Attack of Pancreatitis: Study
- New Test Can Pinpoint Which Pancreatic Cysts Might Turn Cancerous
- Aggressive Approach to Pancreatic Cysts May Prevent Dreaded Cancer
- Adding Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer May Aid Early Detection
- Weight-Loss Surgery May Raise Gallstone Risk: Study
- 5 Deaths Reported After Balloon Obesity Treatments
- Blood Test for Pancreatic Cancer Shows Early Promise
- For Inflamed Pancreas, Eating Right Away May Be Best Medicine
- Is Surgery Always Necessary for Gallstones?
- FDA Issues Warning About Balloon Obesity Treatments
- More Than Half of Americans Have Chronic Health Problem: Study
- New IBS Drug Eases Stomach Pain and Diarrhea for Some: Study
- Urine Test Might Find Pancreatic Cancer Early, Study Suggests
- New Drug Lowers Levels of Triglyceride Blood Fats: Study
- Blood Protein May Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- 1 in 10 Deaths Among Adults Tied to Alcohol: CDC
- Blood Test May Spot Pancreatic Cancer Earlier
- Diabetes Tied to Higher Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in Study
- Blood Test Might Help Spot Pancreatic Cancer Early
- New Drug May Someday Battle Obesity and Diabetes
- Newest Diabetes Drugs Linked to Higher Pancreatitis Risk
- Gene Ups Pancreatitis Risk in Men Who Drink Heavily
- Statins Won't Hurt, Might Even Help, Your Pancreas: Study
- Eating Vegetables May Protect Pancreas, Study Suggests
- Consumer Group to FDA: Take Victoza off the Market
- Drug May Prevent Pancreatitis After Digestive Procedure
- Endoscopy May Be Better Than Surgery for Severe Pancreatic Infection
- Two Pancreatic-Enzyme Products Approved
- Hospitals Ranked for Emergency Medicine Quality
- It's 'Buyer Beware' When Getting Statins Off the Internet
- Do Grapes or Alcohol Make Red Wine Good for the Heart?
- Blood Test Shows Promise in Spotting Pancreatic Cancers Early
- Group Calls on FDA to Pull Alli, Xenical
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