The symptoms of the diseased pancreas include:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or oily stools
- Weight loss
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Increased blood sugar level
- Painless jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin)
- Rapid pulse
- Excessive urination
- Blurred vision
Pain in the upper abdomen is the most common symptom. It spreads to the back and worsens while eating and drinking. Sometimes, the diseases of the pancreas may produce a few symptoms or no symptoms at all. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose in the early stages due to the lack of symptoms.
What is the pancreas?
The pancreas, which is about the size of a hand, is located in the abdomen, just behind the stomach. It is surrounded by other organs including the small intestine, liver, and spleen. The pancreas plays a vital role in converting the food into the energy essential for the body. It mainly consists of two functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that controls blood sugar levels. Because of the deep location of the pancreas, tumors of the pancreas may be difficult to locate.
The exocrine pancreas produces natural juices called pancreatic enzymes to break down food. These enzymes travel via tubes or ducts to reach the duodenum. The pancreas makes about eight ounces of digestive juice filled with enzymes every day. The different enzymes are:
- Lipase: Along with bile, these enzymes break down fats. Poor absorption of fat leads to diarrhea and fatty bowel movements.
- Protease: It breaks down protein in the food.
- Amylase: It helps to break down starch into sugar, which is then converted to energy to meet the body’s demand. Undigested carbohydrates can cause diarrhea.
Unlike enzymes, hormones are released directly into the bloodstream. Pancreatic hormones include:
- Insulin: This hormone is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas and helps the body to use sugar for energy. Lack of insulin can increase the blood sugar levels in the blood and then develop diabetes.
- Glucagon: Alpha cells produce the hormone glucagon. If blood sugar gets too low, glucagon helps to raise it by sending a message to the liver to release the stored sugar.
- Gastrin and amylin: Gastrin helps the stomach to make gastric acid whereas amylin helps to control appetite and stomach emptying.
What to do if your pancreas is not working properly?
If you observe any symptoms of the diseased pancreas, consulting a specialist is important. Pancreatic dysfunction can be debilitating.
Treatment of pancreatitis include:
- Administering intravenous fluid
- Medication for pain
- Surgical removal of gallstones or gallbladder
Treatment of pancreatic cancer include:
Therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may be used by the physician to:
- Enlarge duct opening
- Remove pancreatic or bile duct stones
- Dilate the narrowed pancreatic or bile duct
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Symptoms of Your Pancreas Not Working Properly Related Articles
What Causes Abdominal Pain?Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Abdominal Pain PicturesAbdominal pain is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and other conditions. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Are Bananas Good for the Pancreas?Bananas are one of the most popular healthy snacking options to eat while on the go. Bananas are good for the pancreas because they are anti-inflammatory, easy to digest, rich in fiber and promote gut health and digestion.
Children's Abdominal PainAbdominal pain in children can be more than just a tummy ache. What are the common causes of abdominal pain in children? Learn about pediatric abdominal pain symptoms and treatments for stomach pain in children.
Is EPI Reversible?Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a long-lasting medical condition that affects the pancreas. It usually upsets the way the body breaks down (digests) food and can cause gastrointestinal problems. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) may be managed, but it cannot be cured.
Pancreas divisum is a common congenital anomaly (an anomaly that is present at birth) of the pancreatic duct(s). The human embryo starts life with two ducts in the pancreas; the ventral duct and the dorsal duct. In more than 90% of the embryos, the dorsal and the ventral ducts will fuse to form one main pancreatic duct. In approximately 10% of embryos, the dorsal and the ventral ducts fail to fuse. Failure of the ventral and the dorsal pancreatic ducts to fuse is called pancreas divisum (because the pancreas is drained by two ducts). In pancreas divisum, the ventral duct drains into the major papilla, while the dorsal duct drains into a separate minor papilla. The majority of individuals born with pancreas divisum experience no symptoms throughout life, will remain undiagnosed and will not require treatment. A small number of patients with pancreas divisum will experience repeated episodes of pancreatitis.
Pancreas PictureA fish-shaped spongy grayish-pink organ about 6 inches (15 cm) long that stretches across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. See a picture of the Pancreas and learn more about the health topic.
Pancreatic CancerLearn about pancreatic cancer signs, symptoms, causes, statistics, treatment and side effects (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, biological therapy) of malignant tumors of the pancreas.
What Can Cure Pancreatitis?Learn what medical treatments can help to cure your pancreatitis and speed up your recovery.
What Is the Function of the Pancreas in the Body?A healthy pancreas produces substances that are required for digestion and the breakdown of food.