What are your symptoms during an acute attack?

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I am wanting to find out what people's symptoms are during an actue pancreatitis attack please? How they are triggered and how you got diagnosed?

I have been having attacks that are getting progressively worse for the past year which include left upper abdominal pain, central upper abdominal pain, feeling excessively bloated, vomiting, diarrhoea and acid reflux. unfortunately each time I've been unable to get to a and e due to travel but the attacks ease after a few days of nil by mouth. I did manage to get blood tests towards the end of my last attack which showed elevated liver functions.

Other then that all other tests have come back clear, colonoscopy, liver gallbladder ultrasound, endoscopy showed inflammation and acid.

Does this sound similar? Is my only option to wait for a dreaded attack and go to hospital?

Any advice or information welcome

Thank you

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  • Posted

    i Victoria,

    You should definitely go to the emergency when you have an acute pancreatic attack.  My husband had his first and I sincerely hope it will be his last on May 26th.  He thought that it was just food poisoning but the pain was exactly as you described.  He was in the hospital for ten days, 8 of which on morphine every 3 1/2 hours, IV fluids only for 6 days and then only liquids for another two before he could start to try eating.  His urine was very dark and he was dehydrated for the first three days.  In all he lost 28 lbs in less than 3 weeks and I have to force him to eat four or five small meals a day.  No fats, coffee, any form of liquor, fried foods, pork products and cut back his carbs from breads, donuts and muffins.

    The four ultrasounds, 2 cat scans and and MRI did not highlight the cause of the pancreatitis.  

    A friend of ours was three months in a coma back in the 90's with pancreatitis.

    Don't fool around, change your diet to include lots of vegetables (dark green mostly), fresh fruit, lots of fresh water and take a digestive enzyme with each meal as it helps the pancreas.

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  • Posted

    Hi Victoria, Pancreatitis can be tricky to diagnose and whilst I agree with Pauline re going to the ER when you have an attack, I think you should be looking for a good gastroenterologist.  There are gastroenterologists who specialise in the pancreas, a rare breed actually, however at this point until you know if you have pancreatitis, go see a good gastro person.  

    Don't forget ER's only deal with presented symptoms, unless admitted of course when other doc's step into the picture.  It's not the ER's function to sleuth out a diagnosis that's what GP's and specialist doctors do.

    If you have Acute Pancreatitis it can resolve to the point where you never have another attack if you follow protocol, however you've had a few of these attacks which might mean you're progressing to Chronic so you should endeavour to find out what's going on.  Chronic Pancreatitis is progressive usually, there's no going back, so it's important to find out for sure even if you don't have an attack for awhile.  Permanent damage can be seen on a CT, MRI and endoscopy which was how mine was diagnosed. 

    People with Pancreatitis should not have any alcohol ever, not even a little bit, not smoke, follow a low fat diet always, no exceptions, eat smaller meals 5 or 6 times a day rather than 3 large meals, and take digestive enzymes before every bite of food, no exceptions with that either even when having a small snack.  Some people require pain management.

    Attacks should never be ignored, fasting for a couple of days is the norm and if bad enough to require the ER painkillers maybe given.  Or not depending on the hospital policy.  Complications will be looked for, standard for the ER if presenting with pain, and admission may result but most often pancreatitis patients are sent home after being given something for pain unless there's a complication.

    All one can do is manage this disease, there's no magic pill, and surgery unless absolutely necessary, can cause other or increased symptoms based on posts to this site.  The pancreas doesn't like interference.  It's up to us to live right by following protocol to hopefully reduce the number of attacks.


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  • Posted

    I have Chronic Calcific Pancreatitis. I had an 8mm stone occluding my main pancreatic duct which prevented the enzymes the pancreas secretes to break down food (exicrine.) I flew to the Mayo Clinic and had lithotripsy done on the pancreas to shatter the stone, then the next day they did an ERCP (endoscopicretrogradecholangiopancreatography) to remove all the pieces and place a stint in. 17% of people with Chronic Pancreatitis do not experience pain. Fortunately I am one of them. However, I have had a few attacks that were bad enough to be put on Dilauded for a few days. People's pain will vary but for the most, the pain is more to the left side and below the mid sternum. Pain that is dull, aching and excruciating and radiates through to the back. The pain is like no other. If your pancreas is causing you pain it's unmustakenable. If you get it you will know it. Most people have to be hospitalized to receive IV pain meds, nothing to eat but ice chips all to give your pancreas a chance to heal. If you are having acute attacks the symptoms are the same. The only difference is acute is just that. It goes away and not likely to come back. But mine is chronic as I still have four stones deeply embedded in the head of my pancreas. They check them every six months with a CT scan. The best way to diagnose Pancreatitis is with an esophageal ultra sound. The images are clearer and they are able to tell more about how bad your Pancreatitis is. A CT or MRI is good, but not as good as an EUS. If you haven't had one already I would highly recommend that you ask your GI specialist if you should have one. A high percentage of Pancreatitis is caused by heavy drinking of alcohol. If you are a drinker and don't stop, your condition is more likely to worsen or turn into Chronic Pancreatitis. There's really no known etiology for Pancreatitis accept for alcohol and hereditary conditions. Your pancreas serves several purposes. But the main two is endocrine and exocrine function. Exicrine meaning secreting the enzymes Lipase, Amylase and Teipase to break food down so it can be absorbed. Endocrine has more to do with producing glycogen for the production of insulin. I wish you well. Take care.


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    • Posted

      * Pain is more to the right side and below mid sternum to upper abdomen. Pain that radiates through to the back. Some people experience nausea and/or vomiting with flare ups.
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