The Signs of Pancreatitis
- Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications.
- The signs of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, fever, rapid heartbeat, and jaundice.
- Treatment for pancreatitis typically involves hospitalization, rest, and pain relief medication. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.
The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach that produces enzymes that help to digest food.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, these enzymes are activated and begin to digest the pancreas itself.
Pancreatitis can be acute, meaning it comes on suddenly and resolves within a few weeks, or chronic, meaning it persists for months or years.
Acute pancreatitis is typically caused by alcohol abuse or gallstones, while chronic pancreatitis is usually caused by chronic alcoholism.
Other causes include hereditary, certain medications, infections, and autoimmune diseases.
What are the signs of pancreatitis?
Signs of acute pancreatitis
The symptoms of acute pancreatitis can develop suddenly and include:
- Moderate to severe pain that starts in the upper abdomen and spreads to the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Tenderness when touching the abdomen
Abdominal pain in acute pancreatitis sufferers can last for hours to days and is sometimes relieved by bending forward or sitting up.
About 90% of individuals with acute pancreatitis experience nausea and vomiting, which may last for many hours.
Signs of chronic pancreatitis
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis develop slowly and may include:
- Severe pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back
- Abdominal pain that feels worse after eating or drinking alcohol
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea or oily stools
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Pancreatitis can be a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
If left untreated, pancreatitis can lead to serious complications such as diabetes, kidney failure, and even death. (1, 2, 3, 4)
How Is Pancreatitis Diagnosed?
Pancreatitis is typically diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination.
In some cases, imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
Blood tests may also be conducted to look for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes.
In severe cases, a biopsy may be necessary to obtain a tissue sample for further analysis.
Can pancreatitis go away on its own?
Mild acute pancreatitis typically resolves on its own within a week with rest and pain relief.
But, severe acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis require hospitalization and treatment.
What is the best treatment for pancreatitis?
Treatment for pancreatitis depends on the severity of the condition.
For mild cases of acute pancreatitis, treatment may be as simple as rest and pain relief.
More severe cases may require hospitalization and IV fluids.
Chronic pancreatitis often requires long-term management with dietary changes, pain relief, and pancreatic enzymes.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged parts of the pancreas.
Although pancreatitis can be a painful and serious condition, there are many effective treatment options available.
Potential complications of pancreatitis include:
- Kidney failure
- Decreased blood flow to the pancreas
- Pancreatic cancer
In severe cases, pancreatitis can be fatal.
How can I prevent pancreatitis?
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing pancreatitis.
One of the most important things you can do is maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity is a major risk factor for pancreatitis, so it’s important to keep your weight down.
You should also avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Drinking too much alcohol can damage the pancreas and lead to inflammation.
If you have diabetes, it’s also important to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
High blood sugar levels can harm the pancreas and induce inflammation.
If you have any questions about pancreatitis, please consult with your doctor.
Keep reading: The Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer