What Are the Symptoms of Your Pancreas Not Working Properly?

Medically Reviewed on 3/8/2022
Pain in the upper abdomen is the most common symptom.
Pain in the upper abdomen is the most common symptom of pancreas problems.

Signs that your pancreas is not working properly include:

Pain in the upper abdomen is the most common symptom of pancreas problems. It spreads to the back and worsens while eating and drinking.

Sometimes, diseases of the pancreas may produce 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 role of the pancreas in the body?

What is the pancreas?
The pancreas is an organ that is part of the digestive system. It sits behind and below the stomach in the back of the abdominal cavity.

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. Because of the deep location of the pancreas, tumors of the pancreas may be difficult to locate.

The pancreas plays a vital role in converting the food into the energy essential for the body. It mainly has two functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that controls blood sugar levels.

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.

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Acute pancreatitis is often life-threatening and demands urgent medical attention.

What to do if your pancreas is not working properly

If you observe any symptoms of a diseased pancreas, consulting a specialist is important. Pancreatic dysfunction can be debilitating.

Treatment of pancreatitis include:

  • Administering intravenous fluid
  • Antibiotics
  • 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


Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

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.
Bananas are good for the pancreas because they are anti-inflammatory, easy to digest, rich in fiber, and promote gut health

Along with medical management, bananas are considered good for the pancreas due to their anti-inflammatory properties. However, if you have any underlying health condition, consult your doctor about how many bananas you can eat or whether you need to avoid them. Since bananas are easy to digest, rich in fiber and promote gut health and digestion, they are considered pancreas-friendly foods.

Originated in the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia, bananas are now grown in most tropical regions across the world, including South and Central America. This versatile fruit is one of the most popular healthy snacking options to eat while on the go. Over 500 varieties of bananas are grown around the world for their delicious taste and rich nutritional profile.

Table. Average nutrient content of one raw medium banana

Nutrients       Amount Unit
Water  94.4                g       
Energy 112 calories
Protein 1.37 g
Total Fats 0.416 g
Total Carbohydrates 28.8 g
Fiber 3.28 g
Sugars 15.4 g
Calcium, Ca 6.3 mg
Iron, Fe 0.328 mg
Magnesium, Mg 34 mg
Phosphorus, P 27.7 mg
Potassium, K 451 mg
Sodium, Na 1.26 mg
Zinc, Zn 0.189 mg
Copper, Cu 0.098 mg
Selenium, Se 1.26 µg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 11 mg
Thiamin (vitamin B1) 0.039 mg
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 0.092 mg
Niacin (vitamin B3) 0.838 mg
Vitamin B6 0.462 mg
Folate 25.2 µg
Vitamin B-12 0 µg
Vitamin A 3.78 µg
Carotene, beta 32.8 µg
Carotene, alpha 31.5 µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.126 mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.63 µg
Saturated Fats 0.141 g
Monounsaturated Fats 0.04 g
Polyunsaturated Fats 0.092 g
Cholesterol 0 mg

Bananas are rich in several nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so they confer various health benefits, such as:

  • Serves as an ideal post-workout snack
  • Maintains heart health
  • Boosts immunity
  • Maintains muscle health
  • Regulates appetite
  • Helps manage weight
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Maintains gut health and aid digestion
  • Keeps bones healthy
  • Helps reduce inflammation in the body
  • Keeps cholesterol under check
  • Acts as a good stress buster and helps elevate mood
  • Helps get adequate and restful sleep
  • Helps manage allergies
  • Helps wound healing
  • Maintains healthy red blood cell (RBC) levels
  • Maintains healthy skin

What foods are good for the pancreas?

Other foods that are considered good for the pancreas are:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other fruits, such as berries, pomegranates and grapes
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or non-dairy products, such as almond milk

Which foods are bad for the pancreas?

Certain foods can worsen pancreatic health conditions, especially pancreatitis. Foods that make your pancreas work harder and exhaust it include:

  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Red meat
  • Organ meat
  • Processed foods, such as pastries, chips, cookies and French fries
  • High-fat dairy
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sugary drinks, including sugary colas and sodas

Although they do not need to be completely avoided, foods such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, seeds and olive oil must be consumed in moderation. If you have any other health conditions, your diet may be modified further. Ask your doctor what will work best for you.


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Medically Reviewed on 3/8/2022