Acute Pancreatitis Symptoms

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Acute pancreatitis is an emergency that needs to be treated urgently. There are a few warning symptoms that may occur suddenly and the patient needs to seek help immediately if these symptoms occur.

The symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:-

  • The commonest symptom of acute pancreatitis is sudden onset of a severe pain in the center of the upper abdomen. The pain is dull in nature and is located at the top of the abdomen.

  • The pain gets worse over time and there is a constant pain.

  • The pain may radiate or travel from the abdomen to the back and worsens after a meal. The pain may especially be worse after a large meal for persons who have developed acute pancreatitis due to presence of gall bladder stones.

  • The pain is eased to a certain extent when the patient curls up into a fetal position or curls up into a ball.

  • If the acute pancreatitis is brought about by alcohol, the pain often develops 6 to 12 hours after a drinking a large amount of alcohol.

  • Nausea and vomiting. Nausea is more common and may be accompanied by retching.

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • There may be a high rise of temperature over 38°C or 100.4°F.

  • Some patients may also present with liver damage. This is called jaundice and is typically manifested by yellowing of the whites of the eyes, nail beds and skin.

  • There may be excessive sweating and there is a rapid heart rate or palpitation

  • Some patients may experience abnormal bloating of the abdomen.

  • In very severe cases the patient may lose consciousness or collapse

  • Symptoms are often confused with other emergencies like heart attack, gall bladder stones, biliary colic, and perforation of a stomach or duodenum ulcer.

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

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Last Updated: Mar 7, 2013

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