People with acute pancreatitis suffer moderate to severe pain in the upper abdomen. This comes on suddenly and usually also moves through to the back. There is a feeling of sickness (nausea) and often vomiting with loss of appetite. There is tenderness on touching the abdomen and the pain will force people to lie down and be still. Lots of fluid moves into the inflamed tissues and may cause a fall in blood pressure making the person become sweaty and feverish. These symptoms gradually resolve in most people over a few days to a week.
In severe cases the lungs and kidneys become seriously damaged and the pancreas gland may be partly or completely destroyed in a form of gangrene (pancreatic necrosis) and if untreated will cause death.