What are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

November 12, 2012

What are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

Curious about the signs of pancreatitis? Check out abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues and how they relate to inflammation of the pancreas.

Inflammation of the pancreas otherwise known as pancreatitis ( itis on the end of a word means inflammation) often involves abdominal pain, gastrointestinal issues, weight loss and changes in the intestines. These pancreatic symptoms may develop suddenly or come and go for long periods of time. To refresh your memory, your pancreas is located behind and at the level of the bottom of the stomach. There is a pancreatic duct that opens into the small intestine where pancreatic juices are dumped to aid in digestion of fats and proteins.

Abdominal Complications

Pancreatic symptoms come in both acute and chronic forms and both create various forms of abdominal pain. Acute pancreatitis tends to develop all of a sudden whereas chronic pancreatitis tents to persist for some time and yet will come and go as well and the pain may vary from mild to severe. Acute pancreatic symptoms tend to carry sharp pain emanating from the upper level of the abdomen and just below the sternum. It is reported that half of the individuals that have acute pancreatitis will also experience pain that spreads to the back. Depending on the cause of your pancreatic symptoms, such as alcoholism or gall stones, pain severity and time course will vary. The abdominal pain may worsen after eating, body movements and/or coughing. It has been suggested that if you curl up into a ball, this provides some relief from the pain you are experiencing. If severe pain persists, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible as you are in need of medical attention.

Gastrointestinal Complications

As pancreatic symptoms become chronic (long term), production of enzymes by the pancreas declines which produces a decline in your ability to break down fats and proteins in the small intestine. When fats are not broken down properly, they tend not to be absorbed through the intestinal wall and end up going out as fecal matter. This fecal matter tends to smell bad and the stools tend to have an oily composition (steatorrhea). Protein is also not digested properly and ends up going out with the fecal matter as well. You end up deficient in amino acids, vitamins and certain fats causing you to lose weight.

Other Symptoms

Other pancreatic symptoms have been observed such as indications of internal infections such as a bacterial or viral infection with flu like symptoms. Typical symptoms include sweating, fever/chills and general weakness all over. As the pancreas inflammation worsens, the individual may develop type 2 diabetes. The pancreas also produces insulin which is a hormone that helps your body process sugar. The lack of insulin production will cause your blood sugar levels to rise uncontrollably. Acute pancreatic symptoms also include cyst formation in the pancreas itself that fill with fluid and may eventually burst releasing toxic fluid and debris which may in turn cause an infection.

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