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Pancreatitis (cont.)

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis?

Pain is less common in chronic pancreatitis than in acute pancreatitis.

Some people have pain, but many people do not experience pain. For those people who do have pain, the pain is usually constant and may be disabling; however, the pain often goes away as the condition worsens. This lack of pain is a bad sign because it probably means that the pancreas has stopped working.

Other symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are related to long-term complications, such as the following:

  • Inability to produce insulin (diabetes)
  • Inability to digest food (weight loss and nutritional deficiencies)
  • Bleeding (low blood count, or anemia)
  • Liver problems (jaundice)

What are the risk factors for pancreatitis?

The major risk factors for pancreatitis are excessive alcohol intake and gallstones. Although the definition for excessive alcohol intake can vary from person-to-person, most health-care professionals suggest that moderate consumption is no more than two alcoholic beverages a day for men and one a day for women and the elderly.

Other risk factors include

  • a family history of pancreatitis,
  • high levels of fat (triglycerides) in the blood,
  • cigarette smoking,
  • certain inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis, and
  • taking certain medicines (for example estrogen therapy, diuretics, and tetracycline).

When to Seek Medical Care for Pancreatitis

In most cases, the pain and nausea associated with pancreatitis are severe enough that a person seeks medical attention from a health-care professional. Any of the following symptoms warrant medical attention:

  • Inability to take medication or to drink and eat because of nausea or vomiting
  • Severe pain not relieved by nonprescription medications
  • Unexplained pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain accompanied by fever or chills, persistent vomiting, feeling faint, weakness, or fatigue
  • Pain accompanied by presence of other medical conditions, including pregnancy

The health-care professional may tell the person to go to a hospital emergency department. If a person is unable to reach a health-care professional, or if a person's symptoms worsen after having being examined by a health-care professional, an immediate visit to an emergency department is necessary.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2015

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Pancreatitis - Diet Prevention

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Pancreatitis - Acute Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Pancreatitis, Acute »

The pancreas is a gland located in the upper, posterior abdomen and is responsible for insulin production (endocrine pancreas) and the manufacture and secretion of digestive enzymes (exocrine pancreas) leading to carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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