Your pancreas is perched between your stomach and spine. It secretes insulin and glucagon, which are opposing hormones that regulate your blood sugar level primarily via glycogen storage. Your pancreas also produce enzymes to help digest food.
So, a pancreatic disease has the potential to cause you some unpleasant health problems. Following is a brief overview of diseases and symptoms related to your pancreas.
Pancreatitis means your pancreas is inflamed. It’s caused by pancreatic digestive enzymes becoming activated too soon, so they breakdown the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis usually causes symptoms of severe upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
A major instigator of pancreatitis is alcohol. Although, biliary tract disease, hypercalcemia, cystic fibrosis, drug side effects and certain autoimmune conditions can create this inflammation as well. A chronic problem with pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic insufficiency, bacterial infections, malabsorption and type 2 diabetes.
Pancreatic cancer is a possible life ending pancreatic disease, particularly if this health problem metastasize. It’s difficult to detect early because symptoms tend to be vague, if at all. When pancreatic cancer does cause symptoms, they may include:
A pancreatic endocrine tumor is a pancreas connected health problem that arises in the hormone producing pancreatic cells, some of which can be cancerous. These tumors may or may not cause problems involving the pancreas yielding hormones. And this pancreatic disease’s symptoms are related to the particular hormone that’s involved.
Pancreatic insufficiency means your pancreas is not putting out a sufficient amount of digestive enzymes to break down food. Symptoms of this health problem are diarrhea, gas, lower abdominal discomfort and weight loss. Additionally, this insufficiency can cause symptoms affiliated with malabsorption and malnutrition.
Some of the health problems known to cause or contribute to the development of pancreatic insufficiency are:
- cystic fibrosis
- chronic pancreatitis
- autoimmune disorders ~ lupus
- Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
- removing portions of gastrointestinal system
- certain gastrointestinal diseases ~ ulcers, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease
And less frequently it’s associated with pancreatic cancer.
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a health condition marked by one or more tumors forming in your pancreas or duodenum. These tumors secrete large amounts of the hormone that stimulates the production of stomach acid. Therefore, too much acid is produced, which tends to cause peptic ulcers.
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome causes symptoms of an ulcer, like:
- nausea, vomiting
- digestive tract bleeding
- unintended weight loss
- upper abdominal burning, aching, gnawing, discomfort
Hyperinsulinemia means your pancreas is releasing a tremendous amount of insulin for some reason. This health problem is commonly a symptom of insulin resistance. But it could signal insulinoma and nesidioblastosis as well.
And finally, pancreatic cysts are fluid filled pockets that materialize on or in your pancreas. Because they frequently bubble up without evidence of a problem, these cysts are usually discovered only after an imaging test for some other reason. In relation to your health, pancreatic cysts generally don’t cause any problems.