Pancreatitis is a painful condition. According to WebMD, “In most cases, acute pancreatitis is caused by a gallstone or heavy alcohol use. Other causes include medications, infections, trauma, metabolic disorders, and surgery. In up to 30 percent of people with acute pancreatitis, the cause is unknown.”
Many things can cause pancreatitis. Mine was caused by a prescribed medicine. Medicines are notorious for causing pancreatitis. I ended up in the ER after vomiting for eight straight hours with no end in sight. Besides the vomiting, I felt as though Muhammad Ali had used my stomach as a punching bag. Ad after ad on TV lists side effects of medications, and if you listen carefully plenty of them list stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and pancreatitis. I tried a new prescription for a rheumatology ailment. As my gastroenterologist explained to me, “Rheumatology and gastroenterology often butt heads.” Just being on this medication for one week landed me in the ER with pancreatitis.
There are five symptoms of pancreatitis that are the most common.
- Upper abdominal pain that can radiate to the back. Eating may aggravate this pain. Also eating fatty or fried foods can aggravate the abdominal pain even worse than bland food.
- Nausea and vomiting. Oftentimes, pancreatitis causes continual vomiting, and sometimes patients experience nausea and vomiting only after eating.
- Swollen and tender abdomen. Pancreatitis patients often have abdomens that are sore to the touch.
- Fever and/or chills can accompany pancreatitis.
- Increased heart rate can accompany pancreatitis. This can be attributed to the pain, fever, or dehydration due to vomiting and lack of food intake.
Some patients have all five of these symptoms. Others experience only a few. Upper abdominal pain can occur with or without eating. Oftentimes it is exacerbated after eating. Many people feel abdominal pain increases when they lie flat on their back. I am the opposite. I feel better lying down. Everyone is different. But if you suspect you have pancreatitis, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor.