What are the signs of pancreas problems?

Pancreas symptoms occur when the pancreas is diseased or has sustained damage or injury. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that plays a key part in the digestive process. The pancreas secretes digestive juices into the small intestine, and these juices break down food. The pancreas also releases insulin and glucagon, two hormones that help the body process energy from food.

Digestive Problems Spotlight

Pancreas symptoms commonly affect the abdomen, resulting in abdominal pain or cramping. Other pancreas symptoms include fever, low back pain, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, is the most common cause of pancreas symptoms. Common causes of pancreatitis include gallstones that form in the nearby gallbladder and travel to the pancreas via the common bile duct; long-term, heavy alcohol use; and certain conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when the digestive juices, called enzymes, attack the gland, damaging the tissues of the pancreas. There are two forms of pancreatitis: acute and chronic.

Acute pancreatitis is marked by the onset of pain in the upper abdomen that may spread to the back. With proper treatment, acute pancreatitis can be managed and resolved, although the condition and its complications may be life threatening in some cases. Chronic pancreatitis is a long-term condition that can result in permanent damage. In this condition the pancreas is slowly destroyed until it can no longer produce the important digestive enzymes. Treatment may include a prescription for synthetic pancreatic enzymes.

Pancreas symptoms may start as pain in the abdomen and around the back. In cases of acute pancreatitis, the pain may intensify and worsen through the course of the day. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as a swollen and tender abdomen, fever, nausea, rapid pulse, and vomiting.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for chronic pancreatitis, but you have mild symptoms that persist, recur, or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with pancreas symptoms?

Pancreas symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.... Read more about pancreas symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes pancreas symptoms?

Pancreas symptoms occur when the pancreas is diseased or has sustained damage or injury. The most common cause of pancreas symptoms is pancreatitis. This is an inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when digestive juices produced by the pancreas, called enzymes, attack the gland itself and damage the tissues. Pancreas symptoms can be related to acute conditions or chronic conditions.... Read more about pancreas symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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