Support For People Living With Chronic Pancreatitis
Any long-term health condition, particularly one that causes recurring episodes of pain or constant pain, can affect your emotional and psychological health.
See a GP if you’re experiencing psychological and emotional difficulties. There are medicines available that can help with stress, anxiety and depression.
Talking to other people with the same condition can often reduce feelings of isolation and stress.
The charity Guts UK, may be able to put you in touch with a local support group.
Page last reviewed: 31 October 2018 Next review due: 31 October 2021
Pain Locator: Where Does It Hurt
Abdominal pain can have a wide range of causes. Understanding the nine regions and four quadrants of your abdomen can help pinpoint possible origins and identify associated ailments. Here’s a helpful guide.
Abdominal pain could be indicative of many ailments, ranging from gas and constipation to gallstones or pancreatitis. Understanding the type of pain you’re experiencing, where it’s originating from, and the severity of your ailment, could help you get the correct treatment before symptoms worsen.
It’s important to become acquainted with the nine regions of the abdomen, so you can better understand how your digestive organs function and are susceptible to a variety of medical issues.
Constipation From Not Eating Enough Fiber
Constipation is defined as having stools which are large, hard, and difficult to pass. This leaves the person feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Many things can cause constipation, and a common one is lack of fiber in the diet.
To determine whether lack of fiber is causing the constipation, all other causes are first ruled out:
- Not drinking enough water, sometimes to the point of dehydration.
- Lack of exercise, which helps increase blood circulation and therefore motility of the bowel.
- A very low or no-fat diet.
- A need for probiotics, which replenish the “good” bacteria in the gut.
- Medications, or certain illnesses, which have a constipating effect.
- Constantly ignoring the feeling of needing to move the bowels, and delaying going to the toilet.
If fiber is needed, the best sources are fresh vegetables fresh or dried fruits and whole wheat and brown rice, because those include the fiber-rich bran. Over-the-counter fiber tablets can be tried, though laxatives should only be used if recommended by a medical provider.
Top Symptoms: constipation, constipation, pain in the lower left abdomen, pain when passing stools, feeling of needing to constantly pass stool
Symptoms that always occur with constipation from not eating enough fiber: constipation, constipation
Symptoms that never occur with constipation from not eating enough fiber: vomiting
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Symptoms Of Chronic Pancreatitis
The most common symptom of chronic pancreatitis is repeated episodes of severe pain in your tummy .
The pain usually develops in the middle or left side of your tummy and can move along your back.
It’s been described as a burning or shooting pain that comes and goes, but may last for several hours or days.
Although the pain sometimes comes on after eating a meal, there’s often no trigger. Some people might feel sick and vomit.
As the condition progresses, the painful episodes may become more frequent and severe.
Eventually, a constant dull pain can develop in your tummy, between episodes of severe pain.
This is most common in people who continue to drink alcohol after being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis.
Vague Upper Abdominal Pain Associated With Nausea And Belching
Sometimes stomach pain is hard to identify or comes with multiple symptoms. Vague pain in the upper and mid-abdominal area that is linked to nausea, burping, or belching could be signs of a heart attack, particularly in older patients. Physicians say tests like an ECG or cardiac markers can be lifesaving. They also warn that vomiting with back or jaw pain and shortness of breath can also be a sign of a life-threatening emergency.
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What Home Remedies Soothe Abdominal Pain In Adults
Abdominal pain without fever, vomiting, vaginal bleeding, passing out, chest pain, or other serious symptoms often get better without special treatment.
- If the pain persists or if a person believes the pain may represent a serious problem, they should see a doctor.
- A heating pad or soaking in a tub of warm water may ease the pain.
- Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums, Maalox, or Pepto-Bismol, also can reduce some types of abdominal pain. Activated charcoal capsules also may help.
- Acetaminophen may help. This product should be avoided if liver disease is suspected. Patients should try to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen stomach or intestinal ulcer disease is suspected these drugs can make the pain worse.
How Is It Diagnosed
To figure out whats causing pain in your left rib cage, your doctor will give you a physical exam that includes feeling the affected area. This will help them check for any signs of swelling or inflammation, especially due to costochondritis.
If they suspect the pain could be due to a heart problem, your doctor might use an electrocardiogram to measure the electrical activity in your heart. This will help to rule out any serious underlying condition.
Next, they may take blood and urine samples for testing. Analyzing these results can alert your doctor to signs of kidney problems, pancreatitis, or gastritis. If you doctor suspects you might have gastritis, they may also take a stool sample or use an endoscope to look at your stomach lining. An endoscope is a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end thats inserted through your mouth.
If the cause of your rib cage pain still isnt clear, you may need an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. This will give your doctor a better view of your organs and any areas of inflammation that didnt show up during the physical exam.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
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Trapped Inguinal Or Femoral Hernia
- A left inguinal or femoral hernia happens when a piece of bowel or other tissue from inside the tummy pushes through a weakness in the muscles of the tummy wall near the left groin.
- It can happen on either side.
- If whatever has pushed through gets stuck and can’t slide back inside the tummy, it is trapped .
- If it happens on the left-hand side, there will be a tender swelling in the left groin.
- It causes pain in the groin and in the tummy, usually on the side of the hernia but it may cause pain over the whole tummy.
- It is common to be sick .
What Causes Left Side Abdominal Pain
In order to determine the origin of this kind of pain, it requires a thorough physical exam and interview by a trained medical professional and a careful assessment of the circumstances surrounding the situation. There are so many organs in the left side of your abdomen a disorder in any of them could result in left side abdominal pain.
- Left ovary and fallopian tube in women
Picture: Organs in the Abdomen
These are the organs that can directly give an abdominal pain if any one of them has a disorder. In addition, other organs that are not found in the left abdomen may still generate abdominal pain. For instance, the lower left part of the lung, the heart or the left side of the diaphragm may be the source of the pain. In rare cases, the appendix is located on the left side instead of the right. That could result in left sided abdominal pain. This condition, called Situs Invertus, is uncommon and is not considered as a major cause for left abdominal pain.
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Pain Coming From A Problem With Your Heart
Problems with your heart more usually cause a pain in your chest. However, again the chest and tummy cavities are very close together and sometimes it may feel more as though the pain is in your upper tummy. Heart problems which might do this include:
- Angina. Pain usually comes on as you exert yourself and settles when you rest.
- A heart attack . Pain is sudden and crushing. There may also be pain in the left arm or jaw, and you may feel generally very unwell and/or short of breath. Call an ambulance immediately if you think you are having a heart attack.
- Pericarditis. This is an inflammation of the surrounding sac of the heart. More typically it gives you chest pain, usually with a fever.
What Is Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal over time. It just gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage. This type of pancreatitis frequently develops in people who are between the ages of 30 and 40.
The causes are the same as for acute pancreatitis, causing incidents of the same type of pain. The main cause for chronic pancreatitis is years of heavy alcohol use. This can be caused by one acute attack that damages the pancreatic duct. Some people with chronic pancreatitis show no symptoms, while others undergo abdominal pain, sometimes spreading to the back. These symptoms can become aggravated after eating or drinking, making the pain worse. Some patients report no pain after a while, but this could be because the pancreas has stopped making digestive enzymes.
Other common symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:
- High blood sugar
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Signs Of Upper Left Side Abdominal Pain
Pain in the upper left abdomen can be severe. It can be caused by a range of issues, most commonly stomach problems or conditions that affect the internal organs in that area.
Signs of pain in the upper left abdominal area can include:
- Tenderness near the left portion of your rib cage
- Burning feeling in the chest area
- Stabbing sensation under the left rib cage
- Discomfort when lying down
What Are The Less Serious Causes Of Abdominal Pain
The key to determining less serious causes of abdominal pain is the definition of “less serious.” There is little or no agreement among patients about what constitutes “less serious”abdominal pains however, doctors have a general consensus of what constitutes “less serious” abdominal pain.
If the cause of the pain is likely short-lived possibly treatable, and the patient does not have an emergent condition, does not need to be hospitalized, or should be worked up or further diagnosed by outpatient tests, then the cause of the pain are considered “less serious” by many doctors. A large number of causes of abdominal pain may fit the doctor’s definition of “less serious” abdominal pain. However, even though a cause may generally fit these subjective requirements, there can be instances where they will not. The reader is urged to examine the following section to see what constitutes “serious” causes of abdominal pain. Consequently, the following is a list of potential less serious causes of abdominal pain :
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What Else Could It Be
These lists of possible causes for LLQ are by no means exhaustive and there are many other conditions that can cause pain in the LLQ. Problems in your spine or back could be ‘referred’. Referred pain in this situation means that it is coming from your back but you are feeling it around the front. Muscular pulls and sprains can also affect you in the tummy area. If this is the case, moving the particular muscle would make the pain worse, whereas if you were to lie completely still, it wouldn’t hurt.
Normal Variation Of Constipation
Constipation means bowel movements which have become infrequent and/or hardened and difficult to pass.
There is wide variation in what is thought “normal” when it comes to frequency of bowel movements. Anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal.
As long as stools are easy to pass, laxatives should not be used in an effort to force the body to a more frequent schedule.
Constipation is usually caused by lack of fiber in the diet not drinking enough water insufficient exercise and often suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement.
A number of medications and remedies, especially narcotic pain relievers, can cause constipation.
Women are often affected, due to pregnancy and other hormonal changes. Young children who demand low-fiber or “junk food” diets are also susceptible.
Constipation is a condition, not a disease, and most of the time is easily corrected. If simple adjustments in diet, exercise, and bowel habits don’t help, a doctor can be consulted to rule out a more serious cause.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain , nausea, stomach bloating, constipation, constipation
Symptoms that always occur with normal variation of constipation: constipation
Symptoms that never occur with normal variation of constipation: vomiting
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Problems With The Spleen
Your spleen is just behind your stomach, under and behind the lower ribs on your left. Its main functions are to filter your blood, create new blood cells and store platelets. It is also a key part of your body’s immune system. It may cause pain:
- When it becomes enlarged, which can happen in certain blood-related cancers such as leukaemias and lymphomas. This tends to be a vague ache which may gradually get worse. It can also become enlarged during infections such as glandular fever, in which case a very mild pain would be associated with tiredness and repeated bouts of a sore throat and sometimes high temperature .
- If it bursts following an injury, such as in a road traffic accident. This causes a sudden severe pain shortly after trauma to the tummy (abdomen.
- If it is damaged as part of a crisis in sickle cell disease.
Explore Alternatives To Intercourse
Sex doesnt have to mean intercourse. Foreplay, massage, kissing, mutual masturbation, mutual fondling, and other arousing alternatives to penetration can bring you and your partner closer together without triggering your symptoms. Talk with your partner about the stuff that turns you on, and experiment with all the many activities that can bring you pleasure. Allow yourself to enjoy all the different levels of intimacy, Brooks said.
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What Causes Abdominal Swelling
A common cause of abdominal swelling is gas. Swallowing air as part of a nervous habit or from eating foods that are high in fiber can lead to gas production. If you dont release this gas, it can lead to abdominal swelling.
Left Lower Quadrant Pain
The lower left side of the abdomen is the last part of your colon, and for women, the left ovaries. Minor discomfort in this region is usually nothing to worry about. It will heal and make you feel comfortable on its own.
Rush to urgent care or an emergency room if you have:
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Symptoms Of Pain On The Left Side
Depending on the exact cause of your pain, you may have various degrees of pain. Sometimes, it can also be difficult to determine exactly where the pain is coming from.
For example, pain associated with your heart can be a dull constant pain that radiates to your left shoulder and neck. But sometimes, the extreme discomfort may feel like there is a heavy weight pressing on your chest. However, if you have kidney or flank pain, you may feel this on the left or right side of your back, but the pain can also travel down to your abdomen and groin.
Inflammation of your breastbone or tissue around the heart can cause sharp pains in your left chest that feels worse when you breathe in. The inflammation can also cause dull aches in your chest that cause general discomfort.
Very often, digestive problems like constipation, excess gas, or inflammation in the intestines can cause sharp pains that seem to move around your abdominal area. However, sharp stabbing pains in the left side of the abdomen could indicate a serious problem with your spleen or pancreas.
It is also important to tell the difference between cardiac-related pain and non-cardiac pain. Stress and panic attacks can bring on painful symptoms as if your heart is about to stop beating. However, the racing heartbeat that usually comes with a panic attack can also put extra strain on your heart and cause severe aching in your left chest.
Could I Have A Swollen Or Damaged Spleen
Occasionally, left-sided abdominal pain can be a sign that something is wrong with your spleen.
The spleen is a small, fist-sized organ located just underneath your stomach. It helps to filter your blood and create new blood cells.
Your spleen may hurt if its damaged or ruptured in an accident, or it can become swollen and painful as a result of a condition like leukemia or rheumatoid arthritis.
Other signs that your spleen has become swollen or damaged include:
- pain or tenderness behind your left ribs
- dizziness and rapid heart rate
- feeling full very quickly after eating
- frequent infections
If you think that your spleen may be damaged or swollen, you should go to your nearest hospital immediately. They may organise scans and tests to find the cause, and may be able to prescribe medication to treat the underlying cause.
Read more about how to tell if your stomach pain is serious.
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