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Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Forum
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Avatar universal

Scared that I have chronic pancreatitis

Hi,

I did drink far too much in my 20s to mid 30s or so, and I lowered my intake a great deal sometime in my mid to late 30s.I am now 44.

About two years back I would have occasional attacks in the upper belly at night, once in a blue that were excruciating. They woudl die down and nothing more happened. I also had been chronically worrying for literally YEARS, and having "butterflies" in the tummy all the time.

ONe year ago, I had, in addition, a tiny jab in my left side, middle of the left side. It was tiny but  noticeable. I mentioned it to my doctor ( whom I have since dumped) and his PA said "Oh, that's where your stomach is so you'd be having pain there too." It seemed odd but I had been sick of worrying about myself, so I let it go.

Last summer I was told I had reactive hypoglycemia after extensive testing for diabetes. I was told I don't have diabetes though.

Over the last few weeks, there is a sore pain in my left side, generally the middle of the side, but does not go away easily. Sometimes it leaves, then it returns.  The pain HAs on occasion, felt as if it were getting under my ribs, and yes once, it did seem to radiate around to the back.

So the pain patterns, from everything I read online ( and I developed   rep of being a "cyberchondriac" from years of worrying), match up quite a bit with chronic pancreatitis. I am not experiencing weight loss or diarrhea.
I'm going to call my Gastroenterologist to see if I can get squeezed in.  
But, naturally, I'm terrified.

Can any other illnesses also come across with these symptoms? Also, medscape has those depressing mortality figures. It sounds like I'm dead meat if I have this. One article said there is no treatment yet I hear of people who end up having surgeries.

I know the pancreas is critical, but are there NO treatments? Does everybody just die in ten years? Are there people who have had this treated and have lived with it for a long time?
6 Responses
351246 tn?1379685732
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi!
I do appreciate your worries. The left side (middle of side) is called flanks (plz look it up on net and see if this is the location of pain). So is this where your pain is located? If yes, then this is usually due to kidney stones or kidney infection or due to urinary infection or muscle pull or pinched nerves. Rarely is it due to colitis. The pain due to kidney stone can radiate back as well. An ultrasound of the abdomen followed by urine examination may help clinch the diagnosis.

If the pain is in the left lumbar region (see the quadrants of abdomen—a google image should get you this), then this could be due to stomach issues (like acidity), it may be due to pancreatitis, or spleen issues or kidney stones or kidney infection or due to urinary infection or colitis. An ultrasound of the abdomen followed by urine and stool examination may help clinch the diagnosis. You may need additional tests like CT scan of abdomen, serum amylase, lipase etc.

Since you had pain in the middle of the stomach, and then on sides and have reactive hypoglycemia and drink alcohol, you could be suffering from pancreatitis or gastric reflux or gastritis or acidity. Of this gastritis caused by H pylori infection can cause reactive hypoglycemia. Also if you have hypothyroidism or have certain enzyme deficiencies then also you can get reactive hypoglycemia. H pylori infection can be tested for through endoscopy (this will also confirm or rule out gastritis, gastric ulcer etc) or carbon urea breath test or through blood tests.

Since you have reactive hypoglycemia, you need to eat frequent small meals, avoid alcohol or take it moderately with food, and avoid high sugar diet. Consult an Endocrine specialist to manage this.  

So, when you meet the gastroenterologist, please discuss all these possibilities. A doctor who can examine you may be able to find valuable clinical signs which may help clinch the diagnosis. Also, tests done to rule out the above mentioned conditions will help reach a diagnosis.

Meanwhile please avoid alcohol as much as you can. Take antacids. Eat frequent and small meals that are easily digested. Hope you get well soon! Good Luck and take care!
Avatar universal
Thank you. I had an endoscopy one year ago with the same doctor I am seeing now. It was for stomach pains I had back then. They tested for H.pylori, as well as celiac disease and something else that I forget. It all came back negative.

I also saw an endocrinologist last fall, which is how I know I have reactive hypoglycemia. He said it was mild and that it was fairly common in "young" women (I'm 44 now). He's the head of endocrinology at Winthrop and all he said to do was to spread out the carbs.

Small meals just leave me hungry, even if protein mixed with complex carbs.

What little alcohol I still took, I was taking only after eating.
I've stopped entirely now.

I'm taking antacids and I was prescribed Hyomax? Something like that. It is supposed to deal with IBS pain. I don't think it's doing anything. The pain was better this morning. I haven't eaten much.

The reactive hypoglycemia almost seems to come in waves. It gets intense about a week before my period. There was a section of months between Thanksgiving and last May where it almost seemed like it never happened. Not that I binged on anything, but I wasn't so reactive or hungry.

This gastroenterologist I am seeing said "It's good you are going online to educate yourself, but you are putting the cart before the horse. It's not impossible for you to have pancreatitis, but I think it's pretty unlikely. In my experience, pancreatitis does not present this way."

He did send me for a CBC, Metabolic Chem panel, lipase and amylase testing. Waiting for results.
Avatar universal
By the way, a lot of doctors tend to write off the effects of stress, but I spent literally YEARS in a state of constant worry including "butterflies in the stomach."

It was so bad that I ended up having a cardiac ablation done. A neurologist said that I am very delicately built. Any time I am nervous you can see red splotches on my chest. He said I had "Ganglial insufficiency" and that my sensitivity may have triggered the arrythmia that caused me to be hospitalized.

Since blood leaves the stomach when you have "butterflies" and, as I understand it, the pancreas is putting out tons of sugar, could YEARS of being like this cause any of the issues I have now?
351246 tn?1379685732
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Yes, possible! Also please consult a gynecologist to rule out hormonal imbalance of peri menopause. Possibility of polycystic ovaries should also be looked into as they also affect the blood sugar levels.
Avatar universal
Okay. Thank you!
Avatar universal
So far blood test included CBC, complete blood chemistry, amylase, lipase and something else that I forget right now. I was told "No abnormalities." Waiting to speak to doctor about other things.
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