The pancreas is a long, flat gland is nestled behind stomach in the upper abdomen. It produces enzymes that help with digestion and the hormones that help regulate how the body processes sugar. Pancreatitis occurs when the digestive enzymes that are produced in the pancreas become activated while inside the pancreas, which causes the pancreas to become inflamed.
Pancreatitis can be split into to main categories: acute pancreatitis, which only lasts for a short time and chronic pancreatitis which can last for years. The signs and symptoms for both can vary and while some cases of pancreatitis go away on their own, it’s still important to talk with a gastroenterologist to make sure there are no complications or additional problems.
The most common symptoms for acute pancreatitis are upper abdominal pain that can radiate to the bank and often gets worse after eating. There may be tenderness when touching the abdomen and it can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Those who suffer from chronic pancreatitis those symptoms may also experience upper abdominal pain, but indigestion may also be present. Unexplained weight loss and oily or smelly stool are also a common symptom.
Some people may be more at risk for pancreatitis than others. Those who have a family history of pancreatitis, have had gallstones, abdominal surgery or are taking certain medications may be more at risk. Alcoholism, smoking and injury to the abdomen may also increase this risk. Be sure to talk with your gastroenterologist if you think you have some of these symptoms.