Pancreas - symptoms
Pancreas - symptoms
The pancreas is an elongated lobed organ placed in the abdominal cavity between the stomach and the spine. On the left side is the spleen; at the opposite end is the duodenum, thus the initial part of the small intestine. The pancreas has a number of unique functions. Like other organs of the human body also the pancreas occasionally encounters different diseases that can more or less annoy a patient's life. The most common include acute and chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer; less frequent is mumps virus infection. Some of the symptoms are typical for each disease, but most of them are common for both inflammation and pancreatic tumors. It is then up to the doctors to use a variety of investigative methods to find out what is the cause of the patient's problems and how to help best.
Functions of pancreas
The pancreas, according to its function is divided in to an exocrine and endocrine part. Most pancreatic cells belong to the exocrine part, which is associated with the production of pancreatic digestive enzymes. These are necessary for the break down of all major food components, i.e. proteins, fats and sugars. These digestive juices are secreted from the place of production into pancreatic ducts, which gradually merge with the biliary ducts and lead into the duodenum. The endocrine part of the pancreas is responsible for producing hormones involved in sugar metabolism. These are mainly insulin and glucagon. If this organ is affected by a disease it disrupts its function, which has serious consequences.
Symptoms of pancreatic diseases
The pancreas is most often affected by acute or chronic pancreatitis, in the worst case by pancreatic cancer. All of these diseases are manifested usually the same way and therefore it is not always easy to distinguish between them. Moreover, these symptoms are nonspecific, that means they occur also in many other diseases.
A very common symptom of pancreatic diseases is abdominal pain. This may vary in different diseases. While in chronic and acute pancreatitis the pain is very strong and sharp, and often radiates into the back, in pancreatic tumors the pain is more dull or constringent.
In some cases, the pain is associated with nausea or even vomiting. It may also appear shortly after a meal. Regarding food intake, the patient quite significantly reduces it, and this is for several reasons. First, there is a decrease in appetite, additionally food induces vomiting or bloating, diarrhea, and often the income is associated with significant pain. In chronic pancreatitis there is also a feeling of fullness and pressure in the upper abdomen.
Due to the reduction of food intake patients begin to lose weight and in some rare cases without the initiation of food intake other than orally, usually intravenously, may cause death from malnutrition.
Complications of pancreatic diseases
Relatively frequent complications of pancreatic diseases are diabetes or jaundice. Diabetes results from extensive damage to the pancreatic tissue, which occurs when a large number of islets of Langerhans are destroyed, which produce the hormone insulin. It contributes significantly to the reduction of blood sugar and, if its amount is insufficient blood sugar rises so its flow to the cells is limited. Jaundice may occur due to the oppression of the bile ducts, which drain bile from the liver and which are in close proximity to the pancreas, which may be obstructed for example by a pancreatic tumor. During acute pancreatitis or a chronic pancreatitis attack the damage may be so extensive that the resulting inflammatory response may spread throughout the body and leads to a very dangerous condition for the patient, which we call shock. It may cause malfunctions of the heart and some other major organs, circulatory failure and sometimes loss of consciousness. This turbulent reaction may be the cause of patients' death. But even weaker inflammatory responses of the organism can be felt significantly as increased temperature up to fever, dry mouth, increased fatigue and excessive sweating.
Treatment of pancreatic diseases
Treatment of pancreatic diseases mainly consits in the rehydration and supplementing fluids and minerals. It is also necessary to serve food as soon as the patient is capable. Chronic pancreatitis in most cases requires supplementing pancreatic digestive enzymes, in the form of capsules due to insufficient pancreatic function. In the case of diabetes blood sugar has to be regulated by medication. In the case of pancreatic cancer surgical intervention is virtually the only treatment option, when removing the part of the pancreas with the tumor, or the entire organ.
Most symptoms of pancreatic diseases are common for both inflammation and cancer, but also for some other diseases of abdominal organs. It is therefore very important that any change in health that the patient can not manage is consulted with a doctor as soon as possible and together they can try to develop a strategy to get rid of the patient's problems. It is therefore inappropriate to disregard especially sudden abdominal pain or indigestion. It can be due to an easily treatable and less dangerous condition, such as some cancers if early detected, early treatment can be vital.