The pain of pancreatitis manifests in a specific way and is a key symptom of this condition. Pancreatitis is associated with pain and a handful of other symptoms, some of which can be serious. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.
Gallstones and alcohol are the two main causes of acute pancreatitis. In the case of chronic pancreatitis, 55% is due to excessive alcohol consumption or alcoholism.
Where is pancreatitis pain felt?
The most common symptom of acute and chronic pancreatitis is pain in the upper abdomen, usually below the ribs. This pain:
– May be mild at first and worse after eating or drinking
– become constant, intense and last several days
– tends to get worse when lying on your back and lessen when leaning forward while sitting
– often radiates to the entire back
– Is not aggravated by movement
– is not deaf or localized in the lower abdominal area.
Abdominal pain can also vary depending on the cause of pancreatitis. The pain of biliary pancreatitis, for example, is usually sudden, stabbing, and may radiate down the back.
Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis
Besides abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting are characteristic symptoms of acute pancreatitis. The stress placed on various systems can also make sufferers look as sick as they are. They may be pale, sweaty and distressed.
Other symptoms are:
– Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
– rapid pulse
– Swollen or tender abdomen
– Clay colored stools
Because pancreatitis causes a drop in digestive enzymes, you can’t break down food enough. When you can’t break down food enough, it’s not absorbed as it should be, and that’s what creates a change in the nature of the stool. This difficulty in absorbing foods and their nutrients can also lead to weight loss.
Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis
Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis often only show up when complications arise or the condition worsens. Chronic pancreatitis pain takes two forms. In the first, the pain may come and go, escalating for several hours or weeks, with no discomfort between flare-ups. In the second, the pain is constant and debilitating. Also, in some cases, people with this form of pancreatitis may feel pain in other parts of the body than the abdomen. Sometimes there may be no pain at all.
Here are some of the characteristic symptoms of chronic pancreatitis:
– Oily stools
What is severe pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis is classified as mild, moderate, or severe. While mild or moderate pancreatitis lasts for a few days, severe pancreatitis can last for several weeks.
Severe pancreatitis, which occurs in 15-20% of acute pancreatitis cases, can cause multiple complications. The first stage of severe pancreatitis is marked by organ failure that does not go away on its own within 48 hours. Scientists don’t yet know exactly how this organ failure occurs, but they believe that pancreatitis, being an inflammatory condition, sets off a chain reaction of inflammation that damages and compromises systems related to or near the pancreas. this.
The lungs are the first affected. The inflammation causes surrounding blood vessels to leak into the air sacs, and fluid in the lungs makes it difficult to breathe. Breathing problems caused by organ failure are the most common complications of acute pancreatitis. If organ failure is treated within days, the risk of death is low. It is estimated that if organ failure persists for a week or more, the risk of death is 1 in 3.
In severe pancreatitis, pancreatic tissue dies (pancreatic necrosis) and often becomes infected. This complication occurs after organ failure has been detected. To prevent the spread of infection, dead tissue is often removed. It is possible to have severe pancreatitis with necrosis but no organ failure.
Other complications of severe pancreatitis include:
– Hemorrhage (bleeding)
– Bile duct obstruction
– Peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum).
– Rupture of the pancreatic duct
– Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
– Acute lung injury
What other complications are associated with pancreatitis?
Here are some of the other complications that can develop as a result of acute, severe, or chronic pancreatitis:
– Low blood pressure
– Respiratory problems due to hormonal changes that affect lung function
– Malnutrition due to inefficient breakdown and absorption of food.
– Pancreatic pseudocysts, or sacs filled with fluid and debris, which can cause bleeding and infection if they rupture.
– Extra-pancreatic infections (outside the pancreas), including pneumonia, blood infections and urinary tract infections.
As your body uses its fluids to fight damage to the pancreas, you can become dehydrated. Vomiting and inability to feed can also contribute to dehydration, as well as low blood pressure.
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
As with most diseases, diagnosing pancreatitis often begins with a medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will also order a blood test and possibly one or more imaging tests, such as:
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in particular magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, which allows visualization of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
– abdominal ultrasound
– endoscopic ultrasound, which uses a long, thin tube inserted into the small intestine through the throat.
– Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a procedure that uses an endoscope to X-ray the bile and pancreatic ducts.
– magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (CPRM).
To be diagnosed with pancreatitis, you must have at least two of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain associated with pancreatitis:
- The results of a blood test show that your levels of the pancreatic enzyme amylase or lipase are at least three times higher than normal.
- abdominal images showing changes characteristic of pancreatitis.