A few patients with pancreatitis would also experience respiratory symptoms. The pancreas is close to the diaphragm, the most important muscle of respiration, and the one that separates the abdominal cavity from the thorax. The inflammation of the pancreatic tissue starts irritating the diaphragm and goes through this muscle to trigger inflammation in the lungs and the adjacent organs. Many of these patients have pleural effusion or free liquid in the virtual space that separates the outer lining of the lungs and the inner lining of the thorax. Liquid in this space leads to an abnormal hermetic pressure that impairs the normal respiratory movements of the diaphragm.
Some patients would even develop a serious condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome, which typically results from the liquid in the air sacs of the lungs, which does not allow for a proper exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. In cases of respiratory symptoms, patients would also have an abnormally accelerated breathing, and they should be promptly assessed to prevent a serious complication.