Pancreatitis is a disease that in which the pancreas is inflamed or swollen. There are two types of pancreatitis, namely acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis has sudden onset with no warning signs, while chronic pancreatitis is a recurrent condition that develops over a period of time.
Pancreatitis has no specific cause. However, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of its onset. Accumulation of gallstones increases the risk of acute pancreatitis. Gallstones are formed from bile; and when large in size, they can block the main pancreatic duct where it joins with the bile duct to form the ampulla of vater duct. The main factor that leads to the development of chronic pancreatitis is long-term consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol. Smoking, some medications, high blood-calcium levels, surgery and abdominal trauma also increase the risk of developing pancreatitis. Pancreatitis may also develop due to some hereditary factors.
Symptom #1: Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain is a common symptom for both acute and chronic pancreatitis. In both cases, the pain occurs in the upper middle left side of the abdomen. The pain may reach the left shoulder blade and spread downwards into the lower back.
Stomach pain associated with pancreatitis is different from ordinary stomach-ache because pancreatic abdominal pain can go on continuously for several days if treatment does not commence. The pain is usually worse after a meal and when you lie down flat. However, getting into the fetal position may give some relief. If you experience upper left abdominal pain that won’t go away, it is recommended that you seek medical advice1.