Chronic Pancreatitis?

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Hi guys, Im in a bit of a rut..

So since 09 I have had incidents where I get pain in my upper abdomen. Usually its shortly after a meal, but sometimes it does creep up on me a few hours post meal. It varies in severity and duration. In the beginning I only had it once/twice a year, but the pain was excruciating for 4-7 hours. Fast forward to 2011 I started having these incidents like every 4 months, but with less pain. In 2014 I had an incident every month, but pain again was less. Here in 2015, it seems to be going backwards. I have incidents every 2,5 months now and the pain is far from what it was in 09, but its still painful (its a dull squeezing kind of pain). Sometimes it will go away if I drink a smoothie containing ginger,lemon, beetroot and stuff like that. Other times I need to go for a walk. But then there are times when nothing but time helps. The only pattern I have been able to identify is, that if I am very hungry and eat some junk, then I MIGHT get it. Other than that, I have not been able to find any pattern to when I get them.

I fear it might be Chronic Pancreatitis. This worries me a great deal.

Stools have also been acting weird. Switching between brown/yellowish-brown in color and consistency is mainly normal, but also range between somewhat loose/normal/hard

My stomach is also somewhat tender to touch in the upper rightside/middle. Feels sorta like how a black eye would. Nothing too painful at all, but still something I notice here and there, since I can sometimes feel it when I walk around. 

Two months ago I had my stomach looked at by a doctor performing a gastroscopy. He didn't find anything there. No ulcers. He also did an ultrasound of my gallbladder and appeareantly also my pancreas (Only thing he said was it looked good and that I had no gallstones).

Sigh.. This is terrible. Anyone who has any thoughts on this? 

Thanks in advance guys.

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  • Posted

    Hi tomjohn, your symptoms sure sound like pancreatitis.  It's good that your doc did those tests but it sounds like he's now dismissing the issue which isn't good.  

    My gall bladder has never been a problem either although I understand it's commonly one of the first signs.  The ultrasound would/should have shown any obvious issues with your pancreas like calcification or blockage.  You need someone to look closer or even outside the box.  If your doc is a GP ask for a referral to a gastroenterologist and emphasise that you want to get to the bottom of it, preferably with his help.

    You may need to have an endoscopy which looks further than a gastroscopy.  Stress can make symptoms worse so try to keep calm.  Follow diet guidlines for pancreatitis and see how you feel. 

    Sorry my response is so general others might have more specific ideas about your next step.  Don't give up, good luck and report back. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Reefsider!

      Thanks for your reply.

      It was in fact a gastroenterologis who did the gastroscopy and ultrasound of my abdomen. The thing I find weird is, since I have had many attacks over the past six years, wouldn't it have shown up on the ultrasound?

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  • Posted

    Hello,

    To my knowledge and I have been learning as much as possible about Chronic Pancreatitis as I had it diagnosed in 2011 after suffering symptoms since 2009 also. But as I was saying, to my knowledge MRI's show up any issues better but even with that it can be a very long time, several years infact until some of the physical damage/reasons will actually show up on any tests at all. 

    I would suggest that you go back to the gastro doc you were seeing and ask him to look further into it or ask your GP for a second opinion.

    Good Luck and I hope you don't suffer without the support you deserve.

    Jo smile 

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    • Posted

      Hi J0J0

      I appreciate your reply!

      I am sad to hear that you indeed have chronic pancreatitis. I have heard about it taking several years before getting diagnosed, but Im closing in on 7 years with on/off symptoms.

      Thing is, when I dont have an attack I feel totally fine. Great in fact. No pain at all. Only some varying bowels (shape and consistency). 

      Another thing is my pain has gotten better over the years, not worse (only more frequent) and it does NOT radiate to the back. Just centralized to the front.

      My GP is confused. He does not want to throw it out to IBS yet. I am scheduled for another ultrasound of my abdomen by a radiologist here next week to begin with. If that comes out clear I will ask for a CT or MRI.

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  • Posted

    You'd think it would show I agree. 

    The point then really is that you need a doctor who will go the distance with you, who believes your symptoms are real and wants to find out what's going on as much as you.  I don't know where you are, whether you can easily change your GP if you don't think he/she is putting in 100%.  We can change easily here in Australia it's not about location so that's good.  If you're confident with your GP then it's a matter of him/her being more proactive on your behalf with other specialists.  Don't be pushy however that never works (voice of experience haha)

    I have another weird disease I was born with, scares doc's witless and it throws all sorts of symptoms.  I'm lucky to have a good GP now, well better because she still tends to blame almost every complaint on that disease rather than look further until I pull her up, but I'm lucky she allows me to do that, many don't. 

    Appointment times are short and doc's are under pressure to move on so I always book a double appt, it's worth it to have time to discuss options more fully.

    Took years of complaining before I got to the bottom of my chronic pancreatitis just the same.  Even my specialist didn't look so I dumped him when I found another specialist who would take on my other disease (rarer than hens teeth).  I have to do most of the research so I can 'sublty' suggest what to look at most of the time.  I learned long ago one can't 'tell' a doctor anything even if you're right, and sometimes especially if you're right. 

    Because of the complicated situation with my other issue I always suggest that others find a doctor who will look 'outside the box' because I know there are many ills besides the obvious list that GP's especially tend to go to. 

    You've had this issue since '09, wow, you deserve better, tell your doc you won't be satisfied until it's resolved and to get on with it (very very sweetly of course otherwise you risk triggering a flare up of 'fragile ego syndrome' haha).  Having a sense of humour is essential too.  As before, sorry I can't throw any real light.

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    • Posted

      I so agree with you Reef, it is very much the same here in the UK with finding a good GP and Consultant and having to "suggest" that it maybe helpful looking in a certain direction.

      I just wish we all had the support and help we deserve but it appears that is not so for many of us.

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    • Posted

      Hi again Reefsider

      Thanks for returning.

      I will definitely push to get to the bottom of this. Even if it turns out to be "nothing". If it is in fact pancreatitis I want to know, so I dont make it worse by making the wrong choices diet wise.

      As I wrote in my reply to J0J0, I am scheduled for another ultrasound of my abdomen by a radiologist next week. If it again comes up clear, I will ask for a CT or MRI. 

      Its important to note that my symptoms are not constant. I feel absolutely fine atm. and when I do have an attack, the pain is way milder and does not radiate to the back.

      But it is still annoying when it happens, and its a sign that something is off. 

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  • Posted

    Just to give you guys an update.

    I went to the radiologist yesterday and got a very thorough ultrasound of my abdomen. He told me that everything looked perfectly fine. Pancreas, Gallbladder, Liver, Spleen, Kidneys. All good.

    He did however say that he personally believed it to be some sort of IBS. He looked at my colon, and told me the limitations of the ultrasound regarding the intestines, but also told me I had a fair amount of gas in my colon (despite not having eaten anything for 12 hours due to the procedure).

    He said it was not uncommon for IBS attacks to have similar pains as a gallbladder attack, and that the way I was experiencing things didn't add up to pancreatitis. He also told me that after six years untreated, I would feel very ill.

    So its back to my GP and figure out whats next from here.

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    • Posted

      I suggest when ever you get an attack, go get blood tests for lipase, mylase and if you get regular findings, than you can rule out pancreatitis.

      After that try to focus on maybe sphincter of oddy or ibs.

      Im in the same boat as you with similar symptoms and no diagnosis, sometimes I feel that it might be my gallbladder but all tests also come back ok, also had stool issues like yours after having an attack, took months for stools to somewhat normalize.

      Good luck and keep us updated.

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  • Posted

    You sound much happier tomjohn, I think the conversation with the radiologist (a rare feat!) has put your mind at rest regarding pancreatitis and given you the confidence to proceed to the next step. 

    Sometimes having that kind of conversation when you know you're being listened to and are getting good feedback is more helpful than any medicine.  I'm glad you had that opportunity. 

    I hope you can get to the bottom of it soon and find something to either control your symptoms or cure them altogether.  Good luck

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    • Posted

      Thank you Reefsider. I really appreciate your reply.

      You are absolutley right.

      I hope youre doing well!

      - Tom

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  • Posted

    I am glad your pancreas and other organs look good. However, if you are still having problems you might want to check out sphincter of oddi dysfunction. It can mimic pancreatitis and gallbladder attacks. It took me over a year to get diagnosed. Right now i am having trouble convincing doctors that I have pancreas problems as well.

    Hopefully you get some relief from your attacks.

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    • Posted

      So far I have not had an attack for over a month.

      I am feeling a very very slight discomfort in my solar plexus area/just below my breast bone, that goes on/off throughout the day. Not painful at all, not really anything that interferes with my life. Just something I notice. But for the attacks I have had none for over a month.

      I have heard of the sphincter of oddi dysfunction, but im guessing  doc would have picked up on that? I dont know.

      So far the docs believe I have IBS, which I most likely do to some extend (I have found a BM pattern relating to foods), and I was told that IBS attacks can mimick gallbladder attacks, which can mimick pancreas attatcks.

      So far I have been having symptoms for almost 7 years now, and im not feeling ill on a daily basis, so Im guessing thats a good sign.

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  • Posted

    So I had another attack today. Very mild in pain, but an attack none the less. I have been following a lower carb/higher fat diet for the last few days with no issues, but after my breakfast this morning (consisting of healthy fats and proteins) the attack started creeping up on me.

    One thing I have noticed is that I have pain if I press inwards just below might right ribcage (During or up to hours after the attack. Not every day). Isn't this the location of the gallbladder? And why is the pain only felt there when pressed, but when not pressed it is centralized? Im confused..

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    • Posted

      Gallbladder pain and pancreas pain fell similar.

      Fat is your enemy reguardless if its healhy fat or not.

      you should go get lipase and limase blood work done.

      How long did your attack last?

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    • Posted

      It started to wear off after like 3 hours. Lasted about 5-6 total. But pain was mild all way through. But how come I can eat many fats with no issues most days, but then have an issue like this today after just a single meal?
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    • Posted

      Sounds more like a gallbladder attack, pancreatitis pain feels really painful.

      you might sludge or stones that some times block the ducts and other times not, thats why you only feel the pain sometimes.

      never the less you should go get checked out, next time you get an attack get blood work and see if its your pancreas.

      you have like a like up to 14 days that your lipase will reamain higher than normal, I suggest going after an attack for better blood results.

      Hope fully your problem resolves and you can go back to enjoyng life.

      Godbless

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    • Posted

      Well I am having bloodwork done tomorrow, and the last I attack I had was 6 days ago. So I'm guessing it would show? Guess I'll wait and see.

      Its hard for me to get checked out during an attack, because the pain is no where near the required intensity for ER doctors to even care. They will most likely just dismiss me and send me home with painkillers.

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