What Are the Symptoms of a Failing Pancreas?

Signs of chronic pancreatitis, or a damaged pancreas headed toward failure, include constant discomfort in the upper abdomen and the back, sometimes to the point of disability, explains WebMD. Weight loss from poor food absorption is another symptom, and diabetes is a possible complication.

Chronic pancreatitis refers to long-lasting inflammation resulting from damage to the pancreas, notes WebMD. Some people who suffer from acute, or a shorter episode of pancreatitis, later develop the chronic form, while others develop it from drinking alcohol at a heavy level for an extended period of time. For those who develop chronic pancreatitis from alcohol consumption, the symptoms may not manifest for a number of years but can all hit at once at a severe level.

In addition to acute pancreatitis and heavy alcohol consumption, other potential causes of chronic pancreatitis include gallstones, high levels of triglycerides, cystic fibrosis and regimens involving particular medicines, according to WebMD. About one chronic pancreatitis case out of four has no known cause. While the disease can strike anyone, people with lupus, drink heavily or suffer from gallstones have elevated levels of risk. Most patients are men between 30 and 40 years of age, although the condition can strike women as well.