Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
Steven Doerr, MD
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
In this Article
- Pancreatitis facts
- What is pancreatitis?
- What are the causes of pancreatitis?
- What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?
- How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for pancreatitis?
- Medications for pancreatitis
- Is there a special diet for pancreatitis?
- What are some of the complications of pancreatitis?
- Can pancreatitis be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for pancreatitis?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis causes upper abdominal pain which can range from mild to severe.
The pain may come on suddenly or it may develop gradually. Often, the pain will start or worsen after eating, which can also occur with gallbladder or ulcer pain. Abdominal pain tends to be the hallmark of acute pancreatitis. People with acute pancreatitis usually feel very ill.
Signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis may include:
- Abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Worsening pain after eating
- Tenderness to touch of the abdomen
- Fever and chills
- Weakness and lethargy
In chronic pancreatitis, abdominal pain also can be present, but it is often not as severe, and some people may not have any pain at all.
Signs and symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Foul smelling, oily stool
How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
There are a number of tests that alone, or in combination, will help establish the diagnosis of pancreatitis.
Amylase and/or lipase levels are typically elevated in cases of acute pancreatitis. These blood tests may not be elevated in cases of chronic pancreatitis. These are usually the first tests performed to establish the diagnosis of pancreatitis, as these results are generally readily and quickly available. Other blood tests may be ordered, for example:
A CT (computed tomography) scan of the abdomen may be ordered to visualize the pancreas and to evaluate the extent of inflammation, as well as any of the potential complications that can arise from pancreatitis, such as bleeding or pseudocyst (a collection of fluid) formation. The CT scan may also detect gallstones (a major cause of pancreatitis) and other abnormalities of the biliary system.
Ultrasound imaging can be used to look for gallstones and abnormalities of the biliary system. Because ultrasound imaging does not emit radiation, this modality is frequently the initial imaging test obtained in cases of pancreatitis.
Depending on the underlying cause of pancreatitis and the severity of illness, additional testing may be ordered.
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