Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum, or the upper part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes that help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream, which helps the body use the glucose it takes from food for energy.

In the U.S., about 80,000 cases of acute pancreatitis occur each year. About 20 percent of those cases are severe. Acute pancreatitis occurs more often in men than women.

Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis

The most common symptom of acute pancreatitis is pain. The pain may come on suddenly or build up gradually and may become severe. For example:

  • Pain associated with acute pancreatitis is usually centered in the upper middle or upper left part of the belly (abdomen). The pain may feel as if it radiates through to the back.
  • Pain from acute pancreatitis often begins or worsens after eating or drinking alcohol.
  • Pain from acute pancreatitis typically lasts a few days.
  • Pain from acute pancreatitis may feel worse when a person lies flat on his or her back.

People with acute pancreatitis usually feel very sick. Besides pain, people with acute pancreatitis may have other symptoms including:

  • nausea (some people vomit, but vomiting does not relieve the nausea)
  • fever, chills, or both
  • swollen abdomen which is tender to the touch
  • rapid heartbeat

In very severe cases of acute pancreatitis with infection or bleeding, a person may become dehydrated and have low blood pressure, in addition to the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • feeling lightheaded or faint
  • lethargy
  • irritability
  • confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • headache

Acute Pancreatitis Side Effect

Acute pancreatitis is a serious side effect of Byetta, a type 2 diabetes drug. If you or a loved one took Byetta and developed acute pancreatitis, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Published November 17, 2011 by