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Pancreatitis Symptoms and Complications

Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas. The large, flat elongated gland is located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach. It is buried deep within the body, making problems with the gland less noticeable.

The pancreas produces two chemicals:

  • Enzymes that aid digestion
  • Hormones that help to control how your body processes glucose or sugar

Pancreatitis occurs in acute and chronic forms. Acute pancreatitis appears quickly and lasts for a relatively short time, such as days. Chronic pancreatitis may occur more slowly but can remain a problem for many years. Mild pancreatitis symptoms may resolve without being treated. If the inflammation is severe, though, the complications may be life-threatening.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis

The signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis differ. Patients with acute pancreatitis might experience:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain that goes from the upper abdomen into the back
  • Pain that feels worse after a meal
  • The abdomen is tender to touch
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Rapid pulse

Patients with chronic pancreatitis may experience:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Indigestion
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Oily foul-smelling stools

You should contact your doctor for any abdominal pain that persists, especially pain that is so severe that you cannot find a comfortable position sitting or standing.

Complications of Pancreatitis

Complications of pancreatitis can be severe, so much so that it can cause death. Pancreatitis makes the pancreas release powerful digestive enzymes prematurely into the pancreas before these enzymes enter the digestive tract where they are supposed to help in processing protein, fat and carbohydrate. Instead, these enzymes begin to digest pancreatic tissue.

These enzymes may enter the blood. Blood levels of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and bicarbonate also may change.

Dehydration as a result of vomiting and other reactions to pancreatitis can make the heart, lungs or kidneys fail. The patient looks and feels very sick.

Among the complications of pancreatitis are:

  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory problems: The changes in body chemistry from acute pancreatitis may be so extreme that not enough oxygen goes into the blood, resulting in breathing difficulties. This complication can be especially dangerous.
  • Diabetes: Pancreatitis can damage the insulin-producing cells in your body. When too little insulin is produced, a person may become diabetic.
  • Infection: Pancreatic inflammation can lead to bacterial infections that destroy tissue. If this happens, surgery is often needed to cut away the damaged pancreatic tissue.
  • Pancreatic cancer: Today, doctors and scientists believe that acute pancreatitis, which causes changes in the pancreatic cells, can be a precursor to pancreatic cancer.

Januvia Cancer Lawsuits

Our Januvia cancer lawyers are currently investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of patients who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and who have a history of taking Januvia. If you or someone you love suffered pancreatitis that led to pancreatic cancer and have a history of taking the medication, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Compensation can help pay for medical bills and can help you meet your financial responsibilities such as pay your mortgage and take care of your family.

To find out if you qualify for a lawsuit, please contact us today.

Januvia® News

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    May 1st, 2013

    Sales of Merck's Januvia, a diabetes medication and the company's biggest seller, dropped for the first quarter of the year. The news, which was reported May 1, was surprising, Reuters said. Merck also lowered its full-year forecast today. Merck sales for the quarter dropped 9 percent to $10.7 billion, according to reports. That number is well below the $11.09 billion the market was expecting. The drug company... read more

  • Public Citizen Urges FDA to Ban Januvia Because of Cancer Risk

    April 15th, 2013

    Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, issued a statement last month, addressing the risk of precancerous changes in the pancreases of diabetic patients who use diabetes drugs Januvia (sitagliptin), Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide). According to the statement, Drs. Alexandra Butler and Peter Butler of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and colleagues published a study in the journal "Diabetes," showing... read more