The symptoms of pancreatitis vary depending on whether one is experiencing an acute episode of pancreatitis or suffering from a chronic condition, according to Mayo Clinic. However, general symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the back.
Symptoms of acute or sudden pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, a swollen or tender abdomen, fever and an increased heart rate, according to WebMD. Additionally, Mayo Clinic states that the pain or discomfort associated with acute pancreatitis can worsen after eating.
Symptoms of chronic or long term pancreatitis, according to WebMD, include weight loss, pain in the abdomen that may become disabling and diabetes if the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas are damaged. Additional symptoms of chronic pancreatitis, as stated by Mayo Clinic, include foul-smelling and oily stools.
Most often, chronic pancreatitis results from an acute episode that occurs repeatedly or fails to go away, states Mayo Clinic. Acute pancreatitis happens when digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas become active and begin to damage the organ. Conditions such as gallstones, alcoholism, smoking or cancer are among the causes of the disease. If a patient experiences persistent abdominal pain, she should visit her doctor. If the pain becomes so severe that she is unable find or maintain a comfortable position, she should seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.