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The pancreas is a gland behind your stomach and in front of your spine. It produces juices that help break down food and hormones that help control blood sugar levels. Problems with the pancreas can lead to many health problems. These include

  • Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas: This happens when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder in which thick, sticky mucus can also block tubes in your pancreas

The pancreas also plays a role in diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body's immune system has attacked them. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Diseases

The following features are indicative of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • upper abdomen pain
  • abdominal pain that radiates to back
  • abdominal pain that feels worse after eating
  • fever
  • rapid pulse
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • tenderness when touching the abdomen
  • steatorrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • unintended weight loss
  • depression
  • blood clots
  • fatigue
  • yellowing of skin and the whites of eyes
  • dark urine and clay-colored stools
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
It is possible that Pancreatic Diseases shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Pancreatic Diseases

The following are the most common causes of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • long-term inflammation of the pancreas
  • alcohol use
  • family history of diabetes
  • physical inactivity
  • high blood pressure

Other Causes of Pancreatic Diseases

The following are the less common causes of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • gallstones
  • abdominal surgery
  • cystic fibrosis
  • hypercalcemia
  • hypertriglyceridemia
  • infection
  • injury to the abdomen
  • pancreatic cancer
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • acromegaly
  • hyperthyroidism
  • trauma
  • pancreatitis

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Diseases

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • pancreatitis
  • family history of genetic syndromes
  • family history of pancreatic cancer
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • alcohol consumption
  • age 45 or older
  • family history of diabetes
  • having high blood pressure
  • low level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • history of gestational diabetes
  • history of heart disease
  • depression
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Prevention of Pancreatic Diseases

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Pancreatic Diseases. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • quit smoking
  • having diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • exercise regularly

Occurrence of Pancreatic Diseases

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Pancreatic Diseases cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Pancreatic Diseases can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Pancreatic Diseases can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Pancreatic Diseases

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Pancreatic Diseases:
  • Biopsy: For examination under a microscope
  • Blood test: To test blood for specific proteins (tumor markers) shed by pancreatic cancer cells, to measure blood glucose levels and to look for elevated levels of pancreatic enzymes
  • Stool tests: To measure levels of fat
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To look for gallstones and assess the extent of pancreas inflammation
  • Abdominal ultrasound: To look for gallstones and pancreas inflammation
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: To look for inflammation and blockages in the pancreatic duct or bile duct
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To look for abnormalities in the gallbladder, pancreas and ducts
  • Fasting plasma glucose test: To measure the blood glucose level at a single point in time
  • A1C test: To measure the average levels of blood glucose over the past 3 months
  • Random plasma glucose test: To diagnose the diabetes without fasting

Doctor for Diagnosis of Pancreatic Diseases

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • Oncologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • General surgeon
  • Endocrinologist
  • Dietician
  • Dentist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Podiatrist

Complications of Pancreatic Diseases if untreated

Yes, Pancreatic Diseases causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Pancreatic Diseases is left untreated:
  • jaundice
  • weight loss
  • pain
  • bowel obstruction
  • pseudocyst
  • bacterial infection
  • kidney failure
  • breathing problems
  • malnutrition
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • eye problems
  • dental disease
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems

Procedures for Treatment of Pancreatic Diseases

The following procedures are used to treat Pancreatic Diseases:
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy: To remove tumor in the pancreatic head
  • Distal pancreatectomy: To remove the left side (body and tail) of the pancreas
  • Total pancreatectomy: To remove the entire pancreas
  • Surgery: To remove tumors affecting nearby blood vessels
  • Chemotherapy: To help kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy: To treat pancreatic cancer
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Helps diagnosing problems in the bile duct and pancreatic duct
  • Cholecystectomy: To remove gallbladder
  • Pancreas surgery: To drain fluid from pancreas or to remove diseased tissue

Self-care for Pancreatic Diseases

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • Quit smoking: Helps relieving symptoms
  • Take healthy diet: Helps reducing risk of cancer
  • Maintain a healthy weight: To reduce cancer risk

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Pancreatic Diseases

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Pancreatic Diseases:
  • Exercise regularly: Helps to cope up with distress
  • Do meditation: Helps reducing distress
  • Listen to music: Helps to cope up with distress
  • Do relaxation exercises: Helps reducing distress

Patient Support for Treatment of Pancreatic Diseases

The following actions may help Pancreatic Diseases patients:
  • Hospice care system: Provides comfort and support to terminally ill people
  • Connect with other cancer survivors: Makes patient feel comfortable
  • Talk with a counselor: Helps coping with the disease
  • Education: Helps patient learn enough about cancer

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Pancreatic Diseases.
Cystic Fibrosis
Pancreas Transplantation
Pancreatic Cancer

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