Pancreas Blood Test

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I am 39 years old with a history of alcohol problems and have been alcohol free for a year. I have recently been having stomach pains and upper left abdominal pain especially after eating. I am also having intermittent sharp pains in lower left back area with nausea. I had standard blood tests and liver function results last week and all was OK. My GP sent me for pancreas tests today (amylase etc). I had the same tests with an abdominal sonogram and colonoscopy in August last year which were all ok. Can serious pancreatic problems go undetected by sonogram or develop over just 9 months?

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  • Posted

    Yes, well pancreatitis is hard to determine for a number of reasons.  It mimics the symptoms of other ailments, the pain can vary greatly and be in different parts of the body.  All my tests came back normal and it went undetected until I had an "acute flare up", and during this time Doctor's can pick it off with the blood test because your lipase levels can go crazy (3x normal range) is generally a clear indicator of acute pancreatitis.  In the early stages  of chronic pancreatitis it can be very tough for them to tell   The fact you have quit alcohol consumption will/should bode well for you as there is little sympathy for alcoholics alot of times.  It is easier to label you an alcoholic and see if you go away.  So the quitting drinking should help you out.  Sounds like your GP is looking in the right direction, and he/she is alerted to the possibility of pancreatitis.  Advocate for yourself,  don't be afraid to ask questions or tell the doctor if the pain does not go away.  What makes it worse etc.  Most of the time what you say and your history is as important as the test results.  To answer your question:  it is possible to have a minor bout of pancreatitis go undetected, but if it were severe they can usually see it in your blood work and particularly in the raised lipase levels.  Also the pain tends to get to be pretty intense and you seek out the hospital for pain relief, then they are likely to take your blood and send you for a CT Scan or possibly MRI to see how progressed they believe you are and to look for problems.  Early stage chronic pancreatitis is very difficult to detect, acute flare ups, they can usually tell.  Sounds to me more like early stage chronic pancreatits pain and if you get a bad flare up, you'll know it.
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    • Posted

      The credibilty problem is further complicated by my constant health anxiety over the last year. Its even written on my file at the behest of my psychologist. I can rationally describe the pain as moderate and it doesnt keep me awake at night. It is persistent though and horribly predictable after any food. I just have a really annoying tendency to think the worst case scenario. What kind of dietary advice could you give. Many thanks for your reply. 
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  • Posted

    Stay well hydrated.  A dehydrated body organ is a cranky, miserable thing, so get enough fluids into you, particularly with the vomitting as it further dehydrates you.  If food is a problem you may try "clear fluids" rather than eating and/or eating smaller tolerable meals (low fat or no fat is the suggestion).  Here is what my doc tells me:  If you are having pain, and you cannot eat or take on enough fluids without vomitting, then it's time to get to the hospital to get an IV started to get your fluids up if nothing else, and pain meds.  I was around 37, at the time I wondered why I was so sick.  I went to local Emergency department and I was treated as a drug seeker, and sent home without even bloodwork, also common with pancreatitis patients.  One attack nearly killed me and had me on life support 10days, so regardless of diagnosis currently- ab pain, unable to eat or take fluids without vomitting=hospital.  Know when to go, it can develop into an acute attack quite suddenly or come on slowly but with ever worsening pain, it really varies.  Stomach pain I did not have, so who knows I am not a doctor, but sounds like your doctor is atleast aware of the possibility of pancreatitis.  Hopefully you find out what is going on, but you are going to have to perservere, and advocate for yourself (does not mean argue with doctor).
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  • Posted

    Yes,your tests can show normal levels o Amalise and Lipaise, if youre lucky ot could have just warned you.

    Heed this warning, stay off the booze and smokes and you may get lucky and not have another attack.

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  • Posted

    Hi craggle58,

    Pancreatitis can have symptoms one day and then no pain for months or even years. The answer to your question is yes. Your enzymes can change from hpur to hour.

    Good luck,

    Paul

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  • Posted

    Just out of curiosity, what were your enzyme counts during the attack? I just got out of the hospital yesterday. My doctors said they'd never seen numbers so high.
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