Detecting pancreatitis early is important for ensuring proper and timely treatment. There are many symptoms associated with pancreatitis and too many people are overlooking them. Learning about pancreatitis and the first symptoms it typically presents. This can lead to effective early intervention.
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Located in the upper portion of the abdomen and behind the stomach, the pancreas aids in the process of digestion. The pancreas is a gland that creates two kinds of substances: digestive hormones and digestive juices. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. It can be very severe and even life threatening.
The most common symptom a person with pancreatitis encounters is pain. Nearly every person who has pancreatitis will experience pain on some level. Pancreatitis pain is mostly felt in the upper left portion of the abdomen. This pain may sometimes feel as thought it travels around to the back. Pain can suddenly attack or gradually build up over time. When pain happens suddenly, it is usually severe, and when gradually built up, it starts out mild but may become severe. Pain often begins or worsens after eating and may feel worse when a person lies flat on his back. Pancreatitis pain will usually last for a couple of days. Individuals with pancreatitis often feel very sick and can experience other symptoms such as nausea with or without vomiting, chills, fever, tender abdominal area, a rapid heartbeat, confusion, irritability, trouble concentrating, sudden headache, fatigue and weight-loss even when appetite is normal.
Acute pancreatitis will often begin shortly after damage to the pancreas first starts. Any pains felt are typically moderate, but about 20 percent of them can be severe. Pancreatic attacks only last for a short period and will fully conclude as the pancreas goes back to the normal state. Some individuals may only have one attack, whereas others can be struck with more than one attack; in either case, the pancreas will return to a normal state.
Chronic pancreatitis starts off as an acute case of pancreatitis. If the pancreas is damaged during an attack associated with acute pancreatitis, it will not be able to return to the normal state. In these chronic cases, the damage to the pancreatic gland will worsen over time.
What Causes Pancreatitis?
Gallstones and the abuse of alcohol account for majority of pancreatic cases. Pancreatitis caused by alcohol abuse usually happens in patients who have abused alcohol for at least five years. The majority of chronic pancreatic cases are linked to alcohol abuse. Pancreatitis has often times already hit a chronic state by the time an individual seeks medical attention for the first time. Gallstones can clog up the pancreatic duct, allowing digestive juice to get inside of the pancreas. Pancreatitis caused by gallstones often happens to older women. The remaining cases of pancreatitis have multiple causes, such as injury, abdominal trauma, exposure to chemicals, medications, hereditary diseases, infections, intestine abnormalities, surgery or certain medical procedures and/or high fat levels. There have been cases of pancreatitis of which the cause is completely unknown.