The pancreas is an organ in the digestive system that is responsible for regulating blood sugar and secreting hormones and also produces enzymes involved in digestion. Pancreatitis is a painful illness affecting this organ that sends hundreds of thousands of Americans to the hospital each year. Gallstones cause the condition in the majority of cases. These stones in the bladder interrupt the normal flow of pancreatic fluid, causing pain and other symptoms.
Stomach pain is the most identifiable pancreatitis symptom. The ache may be mild at first and often begins in the upper part of the stomach. Pain may spread into the back and even up to below the left shoulder blade and last for several days without treatment. Often, the pain is more severe when the individual is lying flat on her back. Lying in fetal position sometimes brings relief. Eating a meal, especially high-fat foods, may worsen the pain of pancreatitis.
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