Symptoms of Pancreatitis: Pain and Other Complications

The pain of pancreatitis occurs in a specific way and is a key symptom of the condition.

EVERYDAY HEALTH – Pancreatitis is associated with pain and a handful of other symptoms, some of which can be severe. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.

Gallstones and alcohol are the two main causes of acute pancreatitis. With chronic pancreatitis, it’s been estimated that up to 55 percent of cases in the United States are due to heavy drinking or alcoholism. (1)

Where Is the Pain of Pancreatitis Felt?

The most common symptom of both acute and chronic pancreatitis is pain in the upper abdominal area, usually under the ribs. This pain:

  • May be mild at first and get worse after eating or drinking
  • May become constant, severe, and last for several days
  • Tends to worsen while lying down on the back and lessen while leaning forward in a sitting position
  • Often radiates throughout the back
  • Is not aggravated by movement
  • Is not dull or located in the lower abdominal area

The abdominal pain may also differ depending on the cause of the pancreatitis.

The pain of gallstone pancreatitis, for instance, is usually sudden, stabbing, and may radiate to the back.

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The pain of alcoholic pancreatitis, on the other hand, may develop more slowly and be less localized.

Other Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis

In addition to abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting are hallmark symptoms of acute pancreatitis. The stress on various systems can also cause those with the condition to appear as ill as they are. They may look pale, sweaty, and in distress.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Swollen or tender abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Hiccups
  • Indigestion
  • Clay-colored stools

Because pancreatitis causes a drop in your digestive enzyme supply, you can’t sufficiently break down food. When you can’t sufficiently break down food, it isn’t absorbed as it needs to be, and this is what creates a change in the nature of stools … READ MORE. 

Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer, Flickr (CC BY 2.0), original photo and license.

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