10 Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Medscape cites the global incidence of pancreatitis cases as ranging from 5 and 80 in per 100,000 population, making this an incredibly common condition. Left untreated, this condition can lead to serious complications, including death.

In order to prevent complications, it’s necessary to receive proper medical care; that all starts with a proper diagnosis. Let’s take a look into the signs of pancreatitis, starting off with its most tell-tale symptom…

1. Abdominal Pain

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This is the principal symptom of pancreatitis. People with pancreatitis experience a dull pain in the upper abdomen that goes through the middle/upper parts of the back and can be exacerbated after eating. It can range from mild to severe, and could last for many days at a time.

This pain can trigger the following symptoms…

2. Fever & Chills


Experiencing fever and chills is prevalent among pancreatitis patients, but people are advised to act upon these quickly and seek immediate medical attention, as these can trigger sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

In cases of acute pancreatitis, expect these to come by more often…

3. Nausea and Vomiting


Having an inflamed pancreas impedes the normal digestion of food. This causes nausea and vomiting, especially after eating fatty foods since they are much harder to digest.

Some symptoms appear more obvious than the rest…

4. Bloating


In acute pancreatitis, a person may experience bloating in the upper abdomen. This is due to the immobility of stomach contents, causing it to swell from its usual size.

As a result of poor digestion, it’s no surprise that the following occurs…

5. Weight Loss


Even though you may be eating a lot of food, an inflamed pancreas is unable to produce the enzymes needed to break down and help the body absorb the nutrients it needs.  As such, the body may not get the nutrients it needs, leading to weight loss.

Bowel movements are also affected by pancreatitis’ effects on digestion…

6. Diarrhea


The disrupted functions of the pancreas also affect the person’s bowel movements. Since the food is not properly digested and its nutrients left unabsorbed, it then leads to diarrhea.

Even the stool has something to tell about this condition…

7. Greasy Stool


With the pancreatic enzymes being unable to process the fat in the food, the stool becomes even more foul-smelling, greasy-looking, and can be hard to flush down the toilet.

Pancreatitis also affects the liver, and the symptoms are quite evident…

8. Jaundice


The liver also suffers from the ravages of pancreatitis. Jaundice is a result of the buildup of the yellowish substance bilirubin in the where the sclera (white part of the eyes) and the skin. This buildup turns the skin and eyes yellow. Urine will also turn dark due to this buildup.

At times the symptoms of pancreatitis just leave you gasping for air…

9. Respiratory Problems


Pancreatitis brings about chemical changes that harm its lung function, like causing dangerously low levels of oxygen in the blood. In more severe cases, some patients develop more serious, life-threatening respiratory complications.

Our last symptom is something we definitely need to look out for… 

10. Hypovolemic Shock


This is perhaps the most serious on our list. In critical cases, parts of the pancreas may die, causing fluid and blood to spread to the abdominal cavity, reducing the pressure and amount of blood. This may lead to hypovolemic shock and eventual organ failure, which can be fatal.

Early treatment matters

The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care attests that pancreatitis has a high survival rate, especially if treatment is sought immediately. About 4 out of 5 cases recover without further complications. The remainder, however, can end up being life-threatening, as it increases risk of multiple organ failure should the condition worsen.

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