The main symptom of acute pancreatitis is a severe, dull pain around the top of your stomach that develops suddenly. This aching pain often gets steadily worse and can travel along your back or below your left shoulder blade. Eating or drinking may also make you feel worse very quickly, especially fatty foods.
The main symptoms of acute pancreatitis can vary in severity and presentation but typically include:
- Abdominal pain: Severe and persistent abdominal pain is the hallmark symptom of acute pancreatitis. The pain is usually located in the upper abdomen and can radiate to the back. It is often described as a sharp, intense, or stabbing pain that may worsen after eating, especially with high-fat meals.
- Nausea and vomiting: Individuals with acute pancreatitis commonly experience nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can be caused by the inflammation of the pancreas and the subsequent disruption of normal digestion.
- Abdominal tenderness: The abdomen may feel tender to the touch, particularly in the upper abdomen where the pancreas is located. Pressing or palpating the area can elicit pain and discomfort.
- Loss of appetite: Acute pancreatitis can lead to a decreased desire to eat and a loss of appetite. This can be due to the associated abdominal pain, nausea, and digestive disturbances.
- Fever and elevated heart rate: In some cases, individuals with acute pancreatitis may develop a fever. The body’s response to inflammation can cause an increase in heart rate as well.
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes): If gallstones are the cause of acute pancreatitis and they block the common bile duct, it can result in a buildup of bilirubin in the body. This can lead to jaundice, characterized by yellowing of the skin and eyes.
It’s important to note that the severity and combination of symptoms can vary from person to person. In severe cases of acute pancreatitis, additional symptoms may occur, such as low blood pressure, rapid breathing, confusion, and organ failure. These severe symptoms require immediate medical attention.
If you suspect you or someone else may have acute pancreatitis, it is important to seek medical attention promptly for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Acute pancreatitis can be a serious condition and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.