The Major Warning Signs of Pancreatitis and When You Should Consult A Doctor
Pancreatitis is a disease affecting the pancreas which is the organ responsible for digestion. The pancreas maintains the digestive system and handles hormone secretion. Pancreatitis is actually a complex disease with different types of pancreatitis. Each type has a different set of symptoms to look out for.
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is the term used to describe the disease which primarily affects the pancreas. This disease includes two main types- acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. Besides these, there are other types of pancreatitis such as hereditary pancreatitis which is one of the least common types of pancreatitis. Hereditary pancreatitis is a rare type of pancreatitis which only affects 3-6 individuals per million in Europe.
The pancreas is located in your upper abdomen behind your stomach and it measure approximately 6 inches in size. It consists of several parts and performs the function of converting the food you consume into energy for your body cells.
1The two most common types of pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis involves inflammation of the pancreas and is quite a painful condition. The exocrine pancreas becomes red and swollen due to acute pancreatitis. This then leads to extreme pain.
Acute pancreatitis can be relatively mild in some cases while in certain cases it can be dangerously life-threatening. Deaths from pancreatitis sit at a static level of around 10% which it has been at for 20 years, as per the National Pancreas Foundation.
While chronic and acute pancreatitis may be similar in some aspects, there still are some crucial differences between the two conditions. The main difference is that chronic pancreatitis does not improve over time and eventually leads to permanent damage of the organ. When chronic pancreatitis develops, it starts affecting your ability to digest food and produce enzymes. This results in specific complications and symptoms.
3The symptoms of pancreatitis
Depending on the type of pancreatitis you get diagnosed with the signs and symptoms can vary.
The symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain which gets worse after eating
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tenderness of the abdomen
- Rapid pulse
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Oily and smelly stools (steatorrhea)
- Unexplained weight loss