How to Recognize Symptoms of Pancreatitis

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Pancreatitis is an extremely painful medical condition, which results from inflammation of the pancreas. There are many different causes for pancreatitis, but most often is the result of long term alcohol abuse, or as a result of gallstones. High cholesterol is also a leading cause of pancreatitis. Too often, people end up with pancreatitis that do not fall into those three categories, and therefore find it exceedingly difficult to achieve a diagnosis and proper care. If you have recurring severe upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of being ill, you may have pancreatitis. Here's how you can recognize the symptoms of pancreatitis and what you should do about it.

Try to pinpoint the location of your abdominal pain. The pancreas is a gland located in the upper abdominal region, partly under the ribs, from the center to your left hand side. Pain from pancreatitis often spreads and radiates, making it difficult to pinpoint. Often, the pain will radiate through to the back, up into the shoulders, and on a wide area of the abdomen. Where your ribs meet at the bottom, press in slightly. Pancreatitis pain will often worsen when you do this.

Keep a daily health journal to track nausea and vomiting symptoms. Do you feel worse within an hour of eating? Do greasy or spicy foods seem to worsen the abdominal pain and nausea? When you vomit, does it look like you just swallowed the food and it has not been digested, or are there parts that are digested and other parts that look untouched? These are common symptoms of pancreatitis. Many patients with pancreatitis often avoid food or eat very little amounts from the fear that what they eat will set off another round of pain and vomiting symptoms.

Take your health journal and head to a gastroenterologist, which is a doctor who specializes in the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Ask your doctor to run tests to check the levels of amylase and lipase, a patient with pancreatitis will have much elevated levels of each in their blood. There are several other tests your doctor will want to run, but that blood test is vital in getting a diagnosis of pancreatitis, or ruling it out and finding the real problem.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take extra care of your teeth while battling any disease that causes vomiting, as stomach acid is very hard on tooth enamel.

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