Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis
The majority of symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are associated with impaired excretory function.
Lack of pancreatic enzymes can lead to:
- Steatorrhea – an excessive amount of fat in fecal matter. Stool is usually foul-smelling and can have oily appearance.
- Creatorrhea – an excessive amount of muscle fibers in feces.
- Amylorrhea – presence of abnormal amount of starch in fecal matter.
All this leads to malnutrition and hypovitaminosis since a considerable portion of food leaves the body without being absorbed. Considerable weight loss can be observed as a result in a large percentage of patients. Weight loss can also result from reduction in food intake due to severe abdominal pain associated with eating.
The pain during chronic pancreatitis has the following characteristics:
- It is felt the most in the epigastric area;
- May continue for hours and days;
- Can be intermittent or continuous;
- Sometimes gets worse from drinking or eating;
- Sometimes gets worse from alcohol consumption;
- Can irradiate into the patient’s back.
Sclerotic processes that occur in the head of the pancreas, as a result of chronic inflammation, can increase its size causing an obstruction of bile and pancreatic ducts, causing jaundice. In turn, jaundice can cause cholangitis (an inflammation of the bile ducts) and in some cases renal failure. When bile ducts are obstructed the patient may also have whitish or clay-colored stools.
Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting – are also common symptoms which occur as a reflex to chronic inflammation.