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General Practice 2023

7 symptoms of pâncreas problems (and main diseasesças)

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7 symptoms of pâncreas problems (and main diseasesças)
7 symptoms of pâncreas problems (and main diseasesças)

The pancreas is a small gland that is located behind the stomach and is responsible for producing some important hormones and enzymes that participate in the digestive process. For this reason, the pancreas is essential for the proper functioning of the organism.

However, due to some situations, such as unhe althy lifestyle habits or obstruction of the bile ducts, for example, this organ can undergo changes in its functioning, resulting in diseases that can have serious consequences for the person if not be identified and treated quickly.

Understand more about the functioning of the pancreas and its functions.


Symptoms of pancreas problems

The main signs and symptoms that can lead a person to suspect a pancreas problem include:

  1. Constant pain in the abdomen;
  2. Yellow skin and eyes;
  3. Dark urine;
  4. Feeling of indigestion after meals;
  5. Frequent back pain not related to posture;
  6. Constant feeling of a swollen belly;
  7. Frequent nausea and vomiting.

Although these symptoms are common in people with some type of pancreas problem, they can also arise due to changes in the liver or gallbladder, for example, and therefore, they should be evaluated by a gastroenterologist or hepatologist.

The most common type of problem in the pancreas is pancreatitis and, therefore, these symptoms are not enough to make the diagnosis of cancer. Therefore, if there is a suspicion of cancer or if there are other cases of pancreatic cancer in the family, it is very important to consult a gastroenterologist.

Some tests that can be used to identify the type of problem with the pancreas include abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, and some blood tests.

Major diseases of the pancreas

The main diseases that are related to the pancreas include:

1. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis corresponds to inflammation of the pancreas that can happen due to excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, obstruction of the bile ducts or cystic fibrosis, for example, which causes the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas to be activated before reaching to the intestine, causing inflammation in the organ.

According to the severity and evolution of inflammation, pancreatitis can be classified into:

  • Acute pancreatitis, whose symptoms come on suddenly but can be easily controlled when treatment is started quickly and followed as directed by the physician;
  • Chronic pancreatitis, whose symptoms appear over the years and may be a result of the constant consumption of alcoholic beverages or the evolution of acute pancreatitis.

Main symptoms: Inflammation in the pancreas can be perceived through some symptoms, such as pain in the upper abdomen and may radiate to the back, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, weight loss with no apparent cause, fever and presence of yellowish and fatty stools. Learn about other symptoms of pancreatitis.

How to treat: Treatment should be done according to the doctor's recommendation and depends on the severity of symptoms. In the case of acute pancreatitis, it is important that treatment is started as soon as possible to prevent progression to, for example, chronic pancreatitis.

Treatment is usually done in a hospital environment, so that the person is constantly monitored, with diet control, hydration and use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Dipyrone and Ibuprofen, for example. If there is a risk of infection, the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics. Understand more about treatment for pancreatitis.

In the case of chronic pancreatitis, treatment is carried out with the aim of avoiding complications, and the doctor usually recommends the supplementation of pancreatic enzymes, as well as the use of analgesic drugs, such as Dipyrone or Paracetamol. Check out in this video some tips about pancreatitis:

2. Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a type of tumor that has a high chance of metastasis and that seriously compromises the person's life, as it is usually only identified in more advanced stages. This type of cancer is more common in people between 60 and 70 years old, but it can also happen in people with a family history, who have had pancreatitis, who constantly consume alcoholic beverages, smoke and consume very fatty foods.

Main symptoms: Pancreatic cancer symptoms usually appear when the disease is more advanced, and dark urine, whitish or fatty stools, skin and eyes can be seen yellowing, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, weight loss, frequent nausea and vomiting.

If the present symptoms do not disappear within 1 week, it is important to go to the general practitioner or gastroenterologist for tests to be carried out that can conclude the diagnosis for pancreatic cancer and thus start treatment immediately.

How to treat: The treatment for pancreatic cancer aims to prevent metastasis and improve the person's quality of life, since there is no cure. The treatment established by the doctor is usually surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In addition, it is important that the person adopts he althier lifestyle habits and is monitored by the doctor on a regular basis. Learn more about treatment for pancreatic cancer.

3. Pancreatic insufficiency

Pancreatic insufficiency is characterized by an almost complete reduction in the production of enzymes by the pancreas, which may be due to chronic alcoholism, smoking, genetic diseases and surgery, for example.

Main symptoms: The symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency usually appear in later stages of the disease, when the concentration of enzymes is already much lower. The main symptoms are poor digestion, abdominal pain, presence of fat in the stool, weight loss and diarrhea. In addition, there may be anemia and malnutrition due to loss of nutrients and alteration in the digestion process due to lack of enzymes.

How to treat: The treatment of pancreatic insufficiency is mainly done with enzyme replacement, thus helping the body to absorb nutrients and avoid malnutrition and anemia. In addition, the use of vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended, as well as medications that relieve pain.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by increased blood glucose concentration due to dysfunction in the pancreas, which fails to produce optimal amounts of insulin, which is the hormone responsible for lowering glucose levels.

Main symptoms: Diabetes can be identified through increased urge to go to the bathroom, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss for no apparent reason, too much sleep and tiredness, sudden mood swings and greater chance of acquiring infections.

How to treat: The treatment for diabetes is mainly done with food control, physical activity and the endocrinologist may recommend the use of some medications that can reduce the blood sugar concentration, such as Metformin and insulin, for example, and thus control the symptoms of diabetes and improve the quality of life.

How to avoid pancreas problems

Diseases of the pancreas can be avoided through he althy habits, such as avoiding the consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking, practicing physical activities on a regular basis and having a he althy and balanced diet. In addition, it is important to keep your blood and urine glucose levels well regulated, as well as keeping your blood pressure well controlled.

If you notice any changes in the body or any symptoms that may represent a problem with the pancreas, it is important to go to the doctor so that the diagnosis is made and the treatment started.

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