The pancreas is a very important gland in the human body located behind the stomach and part of the small intestine. One of the main functions of this organ is to release digestive enzymes into the small intestine and thus accelerate and facilitate food digestion. Another important function is releasing insulin and hormones into the bloodstream, which control the transformation of food into energy and the glucose levels in the blood.
Pancreatitis refers to pancreas inflammation. It can occur for many reasons and it is very important to treat it on time because when the pancreas is inflamed the digestive enzymes that it produces are activated before their release, which damage its own cells.
Pancreatitis can be presented clinically in two forms, acute and chronic. The symptoms of each tend to be similar, but they have different timings, presentation and recovery processes.
These are the most common symptoms of pancreatitis:
1. Abdominal pain
It is one of the first and more important symptoms of acute pancreatitis. Abdominal pain is located in the upper part of the abdomen (where the stomach is located) and it can irradiate to the back (like a belt).
Most patients refer a severe pain that can’t be controlled with common painkillers and can be made worse by eating (especially fatty and spicy food) and when the person is lying down.
Typical pancreatitis pain is defined as lancinating (like an electric shock) and some people can confuse it with a heart attack. Likewise, it may last from a few minutes to several hours.
In chronic pancreatitis, this symptom is less severe but it occurs repeatedly, so the patient can experience pain in the upper part of the abdomen after eating or at different times. Some patients describe the pain as disabling.
More symptoms on next page…