The pancreas is a narrow flat organ located between the stomach and the spine, about six inches long. It basically has two main functions; to help break down food by producing digestive juices and to create hormones that control how the body uses or stores food. Diseases of the pancreas include any disease that affects the pancreas. The most common diseases of the pancreas include: pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic insufficiency, and also diabetes.
The diseases of the pancreas may be prevented if you are aware of the signs and symptoms that occur before you are diagnosed with any of these diseases. These signs or symptoms may consist of abdominal pain, chest pain, pain after having your meal, poor control on your blood sugar, pain in the knee or knees, pain after or while you exercise and inflammation. These are the basic and most important signs and symptoms of pancreatic diseases.
The most common out of the diseases of the pancreas is pancreatitis. It is basically an inflammation of the pancreas. It occurs when our digestive system starts “digesting” the pancreas itself. It has further two types; acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. At early stages of these diseases, they both have an identical clinical picture. But the difference lies in the long term course. Basically, chronic is progressive whereas acute pancreatitis is reversible. Different tests are required for different types of pancreatitis. Basic tests include blood tests, ultra sounds, Computed Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s), and X-rays to confirm that it is in fact pancreatitis. However, diagnosing chronic pancreatitis can be difficult, but many hospitals take tests such as stool test Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and also endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
The second most common among the diseases of the pancreas is pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer can be most commonly caused due to smoking. It also depends on your age and gender as it is more common in men. Often chronic pancreatitis leads to pancreatic cancer. It is diagnosed by a thorough physical exam but mainly CT scans, MRI’s, and Positron emission tomography (PET) scans etc.
Pancreatic insufficiency is another of the diseases of the pancreas. It is not exactly a disease, but occurs when there is progressive pancreatic damage. Pancreatic insufficiency can be diagnosed using the methods used for other pancreatic diseases, as it is only secondary to other causes.
Another very common among the diseases of the pancreas is diabetes. It occurs due to the inability of the body to use and process sugar properly. Diabetes, if left untreated, may cause other deadly diseases or complications such as kidney failure, blindness, skin infections, gangrene, cardiovascular disease, birth defects, stroke, disability and death. Diabetes is very easy to diagnose, all you have to do is take a simple blood test called the fasting blood glucose test, which will detect hyperglycemia.
Pancreatic diseases or diseases of the pancreas are easy to diagnose. All that it takes is to get some tests done and have a thorough physical exam, so that you can treat these diseases of the pancreas immediately.
Sources and Citations