Acute Pancreatitis

What is acute pancreatitis?

When your pancreas gets swollen and painful, you have pancreatitis.

The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach. It makes chemicals that help break down food. It also makes insulin. Insulin controls the sugar in your blood.

Pancreatitis can happen all at once or over a long time. Pancreatitis that happens suddenly is called acute pancreatitis.

What is the cause?

We don’t completely understand why it happens. Many people who get pancreatitis have gallstones. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to this problem. Some medicines can cause pancreatitis. Other possible causes are a stomach ulcer, getting hit in the stomach, or having too much fat in your blood.

What are the symptoms?

You may have a bad pain in your upper belly. You might have the pain 12 to 24 hours after a large meal or after you drink a lot of alcohol. The pain:

  • starts in your belly and then spreads to your back and chest  

  • is steady and sharp  

  • gets worse when you move  

  • feels better when you are sitting up or when you lean forward  

  • makes you throw up.  

In very bad cases, you may go into shock. During shock:

  • You may feel restless.  

  • Your heartbeat may be fast.  

  • You may feel lightheaded or faint.  

  • You may be confused and not able to think straight.  

  • Your legs or arms may be cold or sweaty.  

If you have any of these signs of shock with stomach pain, call 911 right away.

How is it treated?

You will need to stay in bed and take it easy. You may need to stay in the hospital.

  • You may not be able to eat or drink anything until your stomach pain stops.  

  • You may get fluids through your vein (IV). You may also be fed through your vein.  

  • A tube may be put through your nose down into your stomach. This will take away stomach fluids and help stop nausea and vomiting.  

  • You may have to stop taking some of your regular medicines.  

  • You will get medicine for your pain. You may have other medicines as well.  

If you have gallstones, you may have surgery to remove them. This may help prevent another attack.

When the pain stops, you can start to drink clear liquids. As you get better you will start to eat soft foods that are easy to digest.

If drinking too much alcohol is why you have pancreatitis, your provider may talk with you about getting treatment.

How long will it take to feel better?

Most people start to feel better in 1 to 3 days. However, the problem can come back. It may damage the pancreas.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow the instructions your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider gives you. This includes:  

    • o.How you take medicines that have been prescribed for you.  

    • o.What kind of food and drink you can have.  

    • o.How active you can be. 

  • Ask your Reddy Urgent Care provider when you can go back to work.  

  • Ask your Reddy Urgent Care provider before you take any medicine or supplements that he or she has not prescribed.  

  • Ask your Reddy Urgent Care provider when you need a follow-up appointment.  

How can I help prevent another attack?

Pancreatitis can happen again. It can become an ongoing (chronic) problem that causes bad pain. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t drink alcohol unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK.  

  • If drinking too much alcohol is a problem for you, ask for help to stop drinking.  

  • Work with your provider to keep your blood fats normal  

  • Eat only the foods your provider tells you to eat.