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Pancreas

The pancreas is an important organ in our body that is located in the upper abdomen. It is a small organ, tube-shaped, approximately six inches long. The pancreatic juices help in absorption of the essential nutrients in the body. The hormone insulin is also produced by the Islet of Langerhans of the pancreas. It helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Causes of Pancreas Problems

The pancreatic problems are caused mostly due to the inflammation or enlargement of the pancreas. The other causes of problems with pancreas include cigarette smoking, drugs, alcohol, gallstones, high blood fats and injury to the pancreas. Age, heredity, gender and obesity are the risk factors of pancreatic cancer.

There are several disorders related to the pancreas. This is the list of pancreas problems:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Acute Pancreatitis
  • Chronic Pancreatitis

Diabetes Mellitus

Many cases of diabetes are caused by a deficiency of insulin. Insulin is needed to help glucose, which is a major source of energy, enter the body’s cell. It is not known why insulin-producing cells in the pancreas die off. When they cease to function, glucose accumulates in the blood and eventually spills into the urine. These patients require daily insulin injections.

Symptoms are: frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue and tiredness.

Pancreatic Cancer

It is one of the deadliest pancreas problems. The worst thing about it is that the symptoms are not noticed until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. Pancreatic cancer is observed in older people. It is one of the major causes of death due to cancer.

Symptoms : abdominal pain, dark colored urine, jaundice, loss of weight, digestive problems, recurrent fever, weakness and back pain.

Acute Pancreatitis

This condition occurs when the pancreas becomes quickly and severely inflamed. The major causes of acute pancreatitis in adults are gallstones, some other disease and alcohol use.

Pancreatitis without any apparent cause is known as idiopathic pancreatitis.

Acute Pancreatitis symptoms are severe pain in the upper abdomen, rapid pulse, vomiting, dehydration, pale skin, anxiety, swelling in abdomen, fever and sweating.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Upper abdominal pain and back pain with nausea and vomiting are the main symptoms of chronic pancreatitis. As the disease becomes more chronic, patients may develop malnutrition, weight loss and insulin-dependent diabetes. The pain is usually a constant, dull pain that gets worse with eating food or drinking alcohol and lessens when sitting up and leaning forward. As the disease progresses, attacks last longer and happen more often. Attacks can last only few hours or as long as several weeks.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms and blood tests, ultrasonography, CT scan or a special x- ray study (ECRP). ECRP technique is performed by inserting an endoscope through the mouth and stomach into the duodenum.

Surgery may be needed if complications, such as gallstones, infection, tissue damage, bleeding or cysts occur.

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