A pancreas is a gland that is located below the liver but between the stomach and the spine and its head connects with the duodenum. Its purpose is to produce juices that assist the body in breaking down foods and hormones that are responsible for the control of blood sugar levels. These fluids are moved to the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. The pancreas consists of two essential tissues, the exocrine and the endocrine. The exocrine is responsible for making a powerful enzyme that assists in the digestion of fats, proteins and the carbohydrates.
These enzymes are produced and carried to the duodenum while in an inactive form and they are activated when in the duodenum. Exocrine tissues are also responsible for making and secreting the bicarbonate that neutralises stomach acids allowing the activation of pancreatic enzymes. The endocrine is responsible for production of hormones insulin and glucagon. It releases them to the bloodstream where they regulate glucose transport in the body cells and are essential for the maintenance of normal glucose levels and energy production.
- Pancreatitis: the pancreas is inflamed and damage by its own digestive chemicals. This often results to the swelling and subsequent death of the pancreas tissues. Alcohol and gallstones are some of the causes of pancreatitis.
- Pancreatic cancer: since the pancreas has different types of cells, each can result to a different type of tumour the pancreatic cancer does not arise from a specific cell. However, the most common type arises from cells that line the pancreatic duct. Usually, there few or no signs of pancreatic cancer most cases are diagnosed when it has advanced.
- Diabetes type1: the blood immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells that are found in the pancreas.
- Diabetes type2: the pancreas loses the ability to produce and release insulin appropriately. , the body becomes resistant to insulin and the blood sugar rises.
- Enlarged pancreas: having an enlarged pancreas may not affect your health but the causes should be identified and treated. An enlarged pancreas may be as a result of anatomic abnormality.
- Islet cell tumour: the cell producing hormone found in the pancreas multiplies abnormally resulting to a benign or cancerous tumour. These tumours tend to produce excess amounts of hormones and release them to the blood. Examples of islet tumours are gastrinomas, insulinomas and glucagonomas.
- Pancreas pseudo-cyst: after the occurrence of pancreatitis, pseudo-cysts which is fluid filled cavity may be formed. The pseudo-cysts may require surgical drainage or they may resolve spontaneously.
The symptoms of the diseases of pancreas occur when the pancreas has been injured or damaged. These symptoms mainly affected the abdomen abdominal pain and cramping are experienced. Other symptoms of diseases of pancreas include. lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and yellowing of skin and eyes. The diseases of the pancreas can be diagnosed through various test that include the following:
- Physical examination: through pressing the center of the belly, an experienced doctor is able to feel a mass in the pancreas.
- Magnetic resonance imaging: the magnetic waves that are used create detailed images of the abdomen. Magnetic resonance cholanglopanreatography is a MRI process that focuses on the pancreas to assist in the identification of diseases of the pancreas.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: uses a camera on flexible tube advanced from the mouth to the intestine to access the area of the pancreas head.
- Pancreas biopsy: a needle or surgical procedure is used to get a small piece of the pancreas for cancer investigation.
- Amylase and lipase: blood test done to identify elevated levels of pancreas enzymes that could suggest pancreatitis.
- Sweat chloride test: a painless electric current is used to stimulate the skin to sweat and the chloride in perspiration is measured. Most people with cystic fibrosis often have high levels of sweat chloride.
The treatment of diseases of pancreas depends on the type of disease affecting an person. The following are the treatments administered to treat various diseases of pancreas:
- Insulin: injecting insulin helps body tissue to absorb glucose lowering the blood sugar.
- Pseudo-cyst surgery and drainage: surgery is done to remove a pseudo-cyst. Pseudo-cyst drainage is done through inserting a tube through the skin into the pseudo-cyst.
- Pancreatic cancer resection: a surgery that is conducted to remove pancreatic cancer. In some cases, the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, the duodenum and a small part of the stomach are removed.
- Pancreatic transplantation: a person with diabetes or cystic fibrosis is given a pancreas by a donor. The pancreas is transplanted into the patient. In some cases, pancreas transplant cures diabetes.
- Islet cell transplantation: the insulin producing cells from a donor are transplanted into a patient with type1 diabetes. It partially cures type1 diabetes.
- Pancreatic enzymes:patients with cystic fibrosis ingest pancreatic enzymes that are meant to replace the enzymes that the malfunctioning pancreas does not produce.
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