By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The most common symptom of pancreatitis is severe pain in the upper abdomen. The pain often resembles a burning sensation and radiates across the back. Other common symptoms include nausea and vomiting.
Further descriptions of pancreatitis symptoms are given below:
- The abdominal pain that commonly features is relieved by curling the body into a ball shape. If the pancreatitis is caused by gallstones, the pain often develops after a large meal has been eaten.
- The abdomen may also be tender when touched
- Vomiting, which may worsen after eating
- The pain can cause a rise in blood pressure
- Dehydration or internal bleeding may cause a fall in blood pressure
- The heart rate and respiratory rate are often increased
- Reflex bowel paralysis may occur leading to a reduction in bowel sounds.
- If the pancreatitis has been caused by alcohol consumption, pain is usually worse around 6 to 12 hours after drinking a lot of alcohol.
- Loss of appetite
- High temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher
- In chronic cases, the pancreas becomes unable to secrete digestive enzymes, meaning fats and certain proteins fail to be broken down. As well as disrupting digestion and causing weight loss, this can cause stools to become smelly, greasy and difficult to flush.
- Chronic pancreatitis can also eventually lead to complications such as diabetes and even pancreatic cancer.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2014