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4 Warning Signs of Pancreatitis

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 13, 2022

4 Warning Signs of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas. While it can go away on its own, it is also possible that pancreatitis can get worse. This is why knowing the warning signs of pancreatitis is important because it can help people seek treatment as soon as possible.

4 Manifestations or Warning Signs of Pancreatitis

There are a number of reasons why people get pancreatitis. In some cases, it is caused by gallstones that block the ducts in the pancreas. Because the ducts get blocked, they can’t release digestive enzymes into the stomach, which results in inflammation and swelling.

It is also possible that heavy or binge drinking alcohol can cause pancreatitis. In fact, smoking combined with drinking is a known risk factor for pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis should be taken seriously, because if left untreated, it can cause further complications and even death. This is why knowing the symptoms of pancreatitis is vital since it allows patients to seek medical attention before their situation worsens.

Pain in the Upper Abdomen

This is the most common symptom of pancreatitis, and is usually the first symptom that people experience. People usually feel a severe and persistent pain just below the ribs (epigastric area). However, it can sometimes be in the left or upper right quadrants.

The reason this happens is because instead of sending the enzymes to the digestive tract, enzymes are instead released into the pancreas. This damages your pancreas, which causes it to swell and become inflamed. This results in the severe, radiating pain that people with pancreatitis experience.

Over time, the enzymes can also damage the surrounding blood vessels and tissues, and can affect the function of nearby organs.

The pain usually starts out mild, and over time it gets worse and starts to affect different parts of the abdomen.

In most cases, sitting up or bending over can relieve the pain. But for the most part, it is difficult to find a position that feels comfortable because of the pain.

warning signs of pancreatitis

Pain That Gets Worse After Eating

Whenever you eat, your pancreas sends out enzymes to your digestive tract to help with digestion. These enzymes help break down your food and make it easier for your body to digest.

Pain that worsens after a meal can also be a sign of ulcers. But, in a person with pancreatitis, their pancreas are unable to send out enzymes to the digestive tract. Because of this, digestion starts to slow down, and this can also cause a lot of pain.

Loss of Appetite

If the pain caused by eating becomes too much, some people might skip meals entirely just to avoid the pain. This can also result in a lack of appetite because simply eating food can cause significant pain in a person with pancreatitis.

Over time, this can lead to malnutrition which can make the patient’s condition much worse. Being malnourished makes it even harder for the body to deal with the inflammation, and can also make things worse.

warning signs of pancreatitis


Jaundice is a condition wherein a person’s skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes start to have a yellowish tinge. This happens because of a high level of bilirubin, a component of bile, in the blood.

This can happen in particularly severe cases of pancreatitis where the ducts that release bile into the intestine get blocked. Because of this blockage, the components of bile start to build up in the blood, and cause the symptoms commonly associated with jaundice.

Key Takeaways

Pancreatitis is a serious illness that people need to be aware of. While people can and do recover from mild cases of pancreatitis, it is also possible for pancreatitis to be a fatal illness.

This is why it is important to not disregard any of the warning signs of pancreatitis, and to seek medical attention if you feel that there might be something wrong. It’s always a good idea to listen to what your body tells you, and to not ignore any symptoms, especially when it comes to pain.

Learn more about Digestive Health Issues here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 13, 2022

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