The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach that produces insulin and digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis occurs when these digestive enzymes activate inside the pancreas and cause inflammation. It can be either acute or chronic.

Acute pancreatitis is becoming more common. It occurs suddenly and usually goes away in a few days with proper treatment. Chronic pancreatitis is less common, but it worsens over time rather than healing. Both types can lead to severe complications, and identifying the symptoms early can ensure prompt treatment.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of pancreatitis, but the type of pain may depend on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis causes sudden and severe upper abdominal pain that can spread to the upper back. This pain is often so intense that people seek treatment in the emergency room.

Someone with chronic pancreatitis may experience pain-free periods with occasional unrelenting breakthrough abdominal pain that requires hospitalization.

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Nausea is another sign of pancreatitis. People with mild acute pancreatitis may not have nausea, but it can be severe in moderate and severe cases.

Nausea can also be accompanied by vomiting, which can lead to dehydration. In these cases, the person usually requires hospitalization and IV fluids.

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People with acute pancreatitis may experience fever, which can be a sign of a complication and should be taken very seriously. Fever with pancreatitis can indicate the blockage of a bile or pancreatic duct or a sign of a secondary infection.

These complications can be fatal, with secondary infections being the most common cause of death for people with acute pancreatitis.

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Any type of pancreatitis can cause jaundice, though gallstone pancreatitis is most common. Gallstone pancreatitis results from a stone leaving the gallbladder and blocking the opening to the small intestine. Fluid can back up into the pancreatic duct, causing inflammation.

If untreated, gallstone pancreatitis can lead to inflammation of the bile ducts, which can severely damage the liver, leading to jaundice. This condition can be fatal if not treated promptly.



Rapid Heart Rate

A rapid heart rate or tachycardia with pancreatitis can have many causes, including pain and fever. If vomiting is present, tachycardia can also be a sign of dehydration.

If the rapid heart rate is accompanied by low blood pressure or a change in mental status, an infection is likely.

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Sudden Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss can result from pancreatitis, particularly if it's chronic. As chronic pancreatitis progresses, it significantly affects digestion. The person may have foul-smelling fatty stools and diarrhea. Sudden weight loss occurs because the body cannot absorb the calories and nutrients it needs.

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Swollen Stomach

Acute pancreatitis can cause a swollen abdomen. This symptom can be caused by many other things, including ascites, hematoma, edema, or bowel distension, but it can be a sign of pancreatitis when accompanied by symptoms like abdominal pain.

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Extreme Fatigue

Pancreatitis comes with a variety of symptoms, the culmination of which can make the person feel tired. Fever, dehydration, pain, vomiting, and all of the other symptoms can be very draining, making someone with pancreatitis feel tired most of the time.

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Foul-Smelling Stools

Adults with chronic pancreatitis often have foul-smelling stools. As the condition worsens, the digestive system is affected even more. If the intestines cannot absorb nutrients as needed, food passes through the gut without being fully digested, which can lead to foul-smelling, abnormal stools.

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If the pancreas experiences significant damage from pancreatitis, specifically when the pancreas cannot create and excrete insulin as a result of the damage, diabetes can result. This chronic condition affects the body's ability to produce or use insulin effectively, leading to increased blood sugar.

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