Pancreas pain symptoms

Image by, courtesy of Bruce

The pancreas is an important organ, part of both the digestive and endocrine systems. Medical illness such as acute pancreatitis can cause pain in the pancreas. Common symptoms include drilling pains in the middle abdomen and loss of appetite. It is important to identify whether or not you have pancreatic pain.

If you do, talk to your doctor immediately.


The pancreas is a fish-shaped organ that stretches across the abdomen behind the stomach and is next to the gallbladder. The pancreas is responsible for producing digestive enzymes and important hormones such as insulin.

Common Pain Symptoms

The most common symptom of pancreas pain is a feeling of discomfort in the upper abdomen, under the ribs and typically in middle of the body. However, pancreatic pain can also be felt on the right or left side. Pain can range from tolerable to severe and is typically a steady, drilling-like pain. Pain can also radiate to the back, chest or lower abdomen. Pain resulting from alcohol abuse usually manifests within one to three days after a binge.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms of pancreatic pain and/or illness include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, fever, difficulty breathing, weakness and shock. Individuals with pancreatic pain typically find all positions to be uncomfortable, and eating makes the pain feel worse.

Acute Pancreatitis

A common cause of pancreatic pain is acute pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. During an attack of acute pancreatitis, the enzymes produced by the pancreas turn around and attack the pancreas instead of being released into the digestive system. Gallstones and alcoholism are the two leading causes of pancreatitis. Medications, abdominal surgery, physical injury, metabolic conditions, surgical complication and some infections, such as viral hepatitis, may also cause acute pancreatitis.

Pancreas Disorders

Pancreatic pain is usually the sign of a serious medical condition or illness such as pancreatitis (chronic or acute), cancer, tumour or diabetes. Talk to your doctor immediately about any pancreatic pain you are having.