What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis symptoms are characterized by severe pain in the middle of the abdomen that occurs secondary to inflammation of the pancreas. People often describe the pain as a deep pain that radiates to the back. Pancreatitis symptoms include nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of pancreatitis are generally made worse with eating. People can
develop fever, jaundice, breathing difficulties, and elevated blood sugar (diabetes). Pancreatitis can be a life threatening illness.
Pain is a major symptom in pancreatitis. The pain is usually quite intense and steady, located in the upper right hand corner of the abdomen, and often described as "boring." This pain is also often felt all the way through to the patient's back. The patient's breathing may become quite shallow because deeper breathing tends to cause more pain. Relief of pain by sitting up and bending forward is characteristic of pancreatic pain.
Classic signs of shock may appear in more severely ill patients. Shock is a very serious syndrome that occurs when the volume (quantity) of fluid in the blood is very low. In shock, a patient's arms and legs become extremely cold, the blood pressure drops dangerously low, the heart rate is quite fast, and the patient may begin to experience changes in mental status. In very severe cases of pancreatitis (called necrotizing pancreatitis), the pancreatic tissue begins to die, and bleeding increases. Due to the bleeding into the abdomen, two distinctive signs may be noted in patients with necrotizing pancreatitis. Turner's sign is a reddish-purple or greenish-brown color to the flank area (the area between the ribs and the hip bone). Cullen's sign is a bluish color around the navel.
People with acute pancreatitis usually feel very sick, besides pain, the patient may have other symptoms including nausea, fever or chills or both, Belly swollen and tender to the touch, and rapid heartbeat. In very severe cases with infection or bleeding, you may become dehydrated and have low blood pressure. You may experience the following symptoms including weakness or feeling tired (fatigue), feeling light-headed or faint, lethargy, irritability, confusion or difficulty concentrating, and headache. If the blood pressure goes extremely low, the organs of the body do not get enough blood to carry out their normal functions. This is called circulatory shock, or just shock. It is a very dangerous condition.