Acute pancreatitis - Symptoms 

Symptoms of acute pancreatitis 

The main symptom of acute pancreatitis is a severe, dull pain around the top of your stomach that develops suddenly.

This aching pain often gets steadily worse and may travel along your back. You may feel worse after you have eaten. Leaning forward or curling into a ball may help relieve the pain.

If you have acute pancreatitis caused by gallstones, the pain often develops after eating a large meal. If the condition is caused by alcohol, the pain often develops 6-12 hours after drinking a significant amount of alcohol.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis can include:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of appetite
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • tenderness of the abdomen (tummy)

When to seek medical advice

You should contact your GP immediately if you suddenly develop severe abdominal pain. If this is not possible, contact NHS 111 or your local out-of-hours service for advice.

Page last reviewed: 25/03/2013

Next review due: 25/03/2015


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 106 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

eve74 said on 20 March 2014

I went to the doctors for over three years with upper abdominal pain, which went through to my back, I was also being sick.
All that happened was my omeprazole was increased because I have a hiatus hernia with reflux, in the end I collapsed and was rushed to hospital, the enzymes in my pancreas were sky high, I was given a paracetamol drip for the pain and a drip. I had a CT scan but no gall stones were found. I wasn't allowed food for four days just black tea, coffee, or water. I don't drink alcohol or smoke, the doctors decided it was caused by prednisolone which I hade been taking for over ten years for polymyalgia rheumatic. I was in hospital for seven days and have been in twice since with the same thing.
I am very worried because I get the pain everyday without warning, it can happen day or night. It worries me even more in case it turns into cancer.
I have been signed off by the hospital now but wondered if I should be having regular blood tests to check the level of enzymes.
I am now giving myself 10mg methotrexate injections once a week for rheumatoid arthritis, so that I can be taken off the prednisolone

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

mrs hankey said on 22 March 2010

I would just like to say that the symptoms of pancreatitis shown above were quite severe in my brothers' case. They seriously effected his quality of life. Only if the symptoms you are experiencing are severe should you suspect Pancreatitis as it is a serious condition.
My brother was mentally and physically disabled and therefore it took a while to diagnose him with Pancreatitis as he could not speak, but his symptoms (which grew worse over time) were chronic diarrhoea, extreme loss of appetite, constant vomiting, serious weight loss (he dropped to under 7 1/2 stone), fever, nausea and most likely a great deal of pain. He was also diagnosed with diabetes and pneumonia, which led to him contracting MRSA and he subsequently died of septicaemia. If your symptoms are severe see your GP especially if you have other underlying health problems or conditions.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

No alcohol sign

Alcohol support

Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first step to getting better, but it is often the hardest one