The most common symptom of pancreatitis is upper abdominal pain, explains Mayo Clinic. Other signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of pancreatitis. Patients with chronic pancreatitis also experience steatorrhea, or oily and smell stools, and weight loss. People who have acute pancreatitis may have abdominal tenderness, abdominal pain that worsens after eating and abdominal pain that spreads to their back. Nausea and vomiting are other common symptoms of acute pancreatitis.
Fever, a swollen abdomen and an increased heart rate are symptoms of acute pancreatitis, according to WebMD. Patients with chronic pancreatitis may also feel severe upper abdominal pain that can be disabling. The malabsorption of food that is common in those with chronic pancreatitis is due to a gland that is unable to release enough enzymes to properly break down the food. Diabetes is another complication that can develop if the disorder damages insulin-producing cells.
A patient with acute pancreatitis often experiences a sudden pain below his sternum, in the middle of his upper abdomen, states Medical News Today. In rare cases, the pain begins in the lower abdomen. The pain gradually intensifies and eventually becomes a constant ache. If acute pancreatitis is a result of gallstones, the onset of symptoms occurs rapidly; however, if it is due to alcohol consumption, the symptoms tend to develop over several days.