How can I tell if I have IBS or chronic pancreatitis?

Posted by just @just, Feb 3, 2012

I have had different stomach pain for 30 years now. I have had my gall bladder removed. My doctor recently told me I have IBS. I think I have both IBS and chronic pancreatitis. Am concerned about not being treated completely and damaging my pancreas. Has anyone experienced chronic pancreatitis and if so, what were your symptoms? My upper stomach will hurt like crazy and almost feel hard. It is difficult to sit still when this happens. My heart rate will increase; and a new symptom now is a pain in my middle, right back a little below my shoulder blade. Sometimes the pain is enough to reduce me to tears. The major part of the pain will last 1-8 hours. When the pain subsides, I will have slighter pain in my abdomen that I describe feels like I have been punched over and over and I will be exhausted and these latter 2 symptoms will last about a day. I do have other, different symptoms, which my doctor is treating me for GERD and IBS, which I believe is correct; however, the pain I have described he is lumping into IBS as well and I am concerned it is chronic pancreatitis which has gone on for 30 years. Any advice? Thank you.

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Hi. I’m sorry that you are having so much pain. I think the most difficult part is not knowing exactly what is causing your symptoms. Once you get an answer to that, it is much easier to cope with the physical pain.

I have had chronic pancreatitis for at least 20 years. It started as a sharp pain in my right shoulder along with upper abdominal pain & bloating. I would resist going to a doctor or ER for so long that by the time I did go, my lab results were normal.This went on for about 10 years.

Finally I had an attack of pain & nausea too intense to postpone getting medical help pronto. My lab results were 3 or 4 times the norm. (Amylasen lipase, liver enzymes)
At that point I had my gallbladder removed by laproscopy. They found only 1 stone, but loads of thick sludge (they said the consistency of bubble gum)in the gall bladder.

Six pain-free months followed, and then out of the blue one morning an unbelievable abdominal pain radiating to my back & nausea struck. My husband dragged me to the ER where my lab results were off the charts. An ERCP was done, where they found I had pancreas divisum. (I have only a small portion of a pancreatic duct, which normally runs the length of the pancreas to enable drainage of the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. Drainage was blocked so, in effect, my pancreas was digesting itself. OUCH!!)

Have your doctors done any lab work soon after the onset of your pain? Have you had a pipida scan (ultrasound to detect gall stones)? Those tests might ease your mind about having pancreatitis. If your doctor is unable to give you answers to your questions, it may be time for a second opinion. Please let me know how things go for you. If I can help in any way, please let me know. Don’t give up.

Be well,
Nookers

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I hope by now you have an answer for your pain. It took 7 years for me to get my answer. After so many test and removal of my gallbladder, I was still in so much pain. They told me it was in my head and put me on antidepressants. Once i found the Mayo Clinic, all my answers were answered. I complained about nausea, left center pain, back killed me like someone punched me. Couldnt eat food but i was still very bloated. Lost weight and only certain positions would help me. If i ate the pain would come back. They tested me for MS, Crohn’s disease, being pregnant. Finally my internal doctor told me it was chronic pancreatitis and IBS. By then my other issues got out of control. Like PCOS was fighting me and my fibro kicked in like no other. So my weight would drop, then my weight would gain very quickly. Its been 7 years since then = 14 years now that i have been dealing with it. My duodenum does have issues opening up. I was born this way and it didnt hit me until i was 31 yrs old. Lucky me right. I am on many meds – pancreas meds, ibs, gurd, pain meds, vitiams and plus my pcos meds. I had a ercp and even biopsy of my intestines, endoscope, and bw. My # didnt always show anything. It helped me finding the answer and knowing i wasnt crazy. That sucks just as much then the pain. I am still having attacks and my meds have changed by increasing them. Soon i may need to have it removed and have a bag. My life will never be the same as it once was since i live day by day do to pain. But knowing helped me lift a big issue. Stress doesnt help at all with already vomiting or diarrhea. Do some breathing techniques and get an internal medicine Dr. I am lucky my family doctor knew me very well and helped me get in ASAP to the Mayo Clinic. My husbad helps me very much with my disease and understands the pain just wont go away sometimes. Rest and a brat diet will help. Sometimes i just have water and work my way up to food. I hope you have found your answer.

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Hello @elbb29 and welcome to Mayo Connect! I’m so glad that you found our online support group. I so appreciate you sharing your story with us. Your story is a testimony to the importance of us being proactive in seeking answers – even when they don’t seem to be easy to find. I applaud you for continuing to search out help and I’m glad that Mayo Clinic was able to be of help to you.

On this forum, we all learn from each other and on that note: You mention a BRAT diet. Could you tell us more about that? What types of foods are included and how has it helped?

Teresa

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@hopeful33250

Hello @elbb29 and welcome to Mayo Connect! I’m so glad that you found our online support group. I so appreciate you sharing your story with us. Your story is a testimony to the importance of us being proactive in seeking answers – even when they don’t seem to be easy to find. I applaud you for continuing to search out help and I’m glad that Mayo Clinic was able to be of help to you.

On this forum, we all learn from each other and on that note: You mention a BRAT diet. Could you tell us more about that? What types of foods are included and how has it helped?

Teresa

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A BRAT diet is made of banana, rice, apple sauce and toast. The BRAT diet is a diet that has been recommended for people with vomiting, diarrhea or gastroenteritis.
Since I had an pancreatitis attack last night I am on electrolyte water and toast today. I find apple sauce with cinnamon helps with nausea and toast with cinnamon as well. I work my way up daily from there if I can. I normally stay away from protien since it is so hard to digest it. Keep in mind if your pancreatitis pain is so bad after eating with any of these and cant hold down water as well. Then go to the ER please and consult with your physician. My Dietician told me to eat what you can and hold down with out pain. At that time I was a vegan and bought back foods slowly to see what I can eat. I hope this helps you all in your recovery.

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Welcome @elbb29. Thank you for posting, and reanimating this discussion.

@ilene1 @thehumanfountain @aloha have all discussed the BRAT diet, and I wonder if they would join in this conversation with their insights, as well.

@elbb29, how are you doing after this latest attack?

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Thank you for asking @kanaazpereira
I am still in much pain and tried eating toast today. So I am only having electrolyte today since it made me nausea and broght back pain. I will try eating again tomorrow. I am taking my pain pills for the pain. Lets pray I recover soon and wont need to go to the hospital. I am resting and binge watching Shooter today.

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We wish you a quick recovery, too @elbb29; happy viewing!

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@elbb29

Thank you for asking @kanaazpereira
I am still in much pain and tried eating toast today. So I am only having electrolyte today since it made me nausea and broght back pain. I will try eating again tomorrow. I am taking my pain pills for the pain. Lets pray I recover soon and wont need to go to the hospital. I am resting and binge watching Shooter today.

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@elbb29 Just checking in with you. Feeling any better yet? Teresa

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@elbb29

Thank you for asking @kanaazpereira
I am still in much pain and tried eating toast today. So I am only having electrolyte today since it made me nausea and broght back pain. I will try eating again tomorrow. I am taking my pain pills for the pain. Lets pray I recover soon and wont need to go to the hospital. I am resting and binge watching Shooter today.

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Hello Tersea @hopeful33250 I am doing a lot better! I ate last night with no pain and no pain meds. I am still working in my normal diet, it may take a few more days to get there. Today I had my morning protein shake, which was a good thing. Thank you for asking.

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@elbb29

Thank you for asking @kanaazpereira
I am still in much pain and tried eating toast today. So I am only having electrolyte today since it made me nausea and broght back pain. I will try eating again tomorrow. I am taking my pain pills for the pain. Lets pray I recover soon and wont need to go to the hospital. I am resting and binge watching Shooter today.

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@elbb29 I’m glad to hear that! Teresa

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