Pancreas: Functions and Possible Problems

Pancreas is a unique organ, which belongs to gastrointestinal tract and endocrine system at the same time. The structure of the organ in the abdominal cavity at the left side back of the stomach is glandular. The gland may be structurally divided into four parts: the head, the neck of pancreas, the body and the tail.

The role of the organ
Pancreas is a mixed gland. It simultaneously performs two main functions:

  • Endocrine. This organ has Langerhans islets in the structure. They produce a few hormones like insulin and glucagon. They regulate the blood sugar levels. Besides, this constituent of pancreas regulates the metabolic processes in the human organism.
  • Exocrine. Being a constituent of gastric tract, pancreas secretes pancreatic juice. This substance in its turn takes part in the process of digestion of food. The enzymes of this gland are responsible for the process of cleavage of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

What disorders may attack this organ?
The number of illnesses, which may relate to pancreas is not big. There are only three illnesses, which can significantly damage the organ:

  • Pancreatitis;
  • Pancreas cancer;
  • Diabetes.

Let’s find out the peculiarities, the manifestations and possible methods of therapy of each pancreatic disorder.

Pancreatitis. Types and reasons of appearance
Bad eating habits have made this illness one of the most widespread. Pancreatitis is the disease, which evolves because the enzymes produced by this organ for digestion start working before they actually get into small intestine. Hence, the pancreas starts destroying itself and appears inflammation.

We should differentiate between the types of this illness:

  • Acute pancreatitis. It develops suddenly and is not durable. It may evolve light signs, which may cause little discomfort. Or it may manifest in strong pain with life-threatening indications. The main indicators of acute pancreatitis are strong pain in the upper part of the abdominal cavity, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever. If properly treated, acute form of pancreatitis may be cured without any serious consequences to your health in a few days. Otherwise, a patient risks to get serious organ damage, hemorrhage, infection and formation of cyst. It may lead to drastic results like kidney, heart or lungs problems.
  • Chronic pancreatitis. This illness may result from acute form. The leading reason of this disorder is severe alcohol abuse. Chronic pancreatitis may progress throughout many years and only then show the signs. The manifestations of chronic pancreatitis are diarrhea, reduction of body weight, fatty stool. Depending on the number of damaged cells, the person may evolve diabetes mellitus.

Pancreatic cancer
There exist two subtypes of pancreatic cancer: the one which develops within the cells that produce hormones (1-2% of all cases) and adenocarcinoma, which attacks the cells responsible for digestive enzymes. The latter affects 85% of all people with pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately, the statistics of this sickness is not promising. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International only 4.1 out of 100,000 patients with pancreatic cancer overcome 5-year period of living. Pancreatic cancer is the seventh most often reason of death in the world. It is almost always a death sentence.

It may be explained by the absence of symptoms at early stages. It is usually diagnosed when it’s too late to do something. The only thing you can do to prevent this disease is to maintain normal body mass and follow a healthy way of life. Very often pancreatic cancer progresses in individuals with chronic pancreatitis.

Types and reasons of diabetes progress
This disease is related to the wrong work of pancreas. There are three main types of diabetes, which vary in their reasons of appearance and the way they may be treated. Let’s talk about the details of each type of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent. It usually evolves at the child’s age or in the adolescence. The reason of its appearance is not known. It is thought that the crucial factors may be the heredity and the failure in genes connected with negative factors of the environment. It’s only a hypothesis, though. The pancreas stops producing insulin or its amount is not enough for managing normal level of blood sugar. The only thing, which may save the lives of such patients is the intake of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is prevalent. It is non-insulin-dependent. It means that the pancreas produces enough of this hormone, but the body fails to normally react to insulin. People with high body mass or obesity are most inclined to getting this disorder. Besides, one should be cautious if he has close relatives (parents, siblings) suffering from any type of diabetes. The seriousness of the patient’s state, determines the ways he will be treated (with or without insulin therapy). To prevent type 2 diabetes, keep to a balanced diet, do sports at least three times a week and avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and smoking.

Gestational diabetes evolves only in pregnant women. It should be treated to prevent complications in the baby and the expectant mother. This type of the disorder vanishes after the baby is born. Nevertheless, it may signal about the increased risks of type 2 diabetes development.

How can these diseases be prevented?
There is no exact recipe of avoiding these illnesses. The only thing you can do is to take care of your health by eating food rich in vitamins and minerals and avoid eating fatty foods and drinking soda. Besides, do some physical exercises. Don’t smoke and never abuse alcohol. These simple things can significantly lower your risks of getting these dangerous diseases, which may become lethal.

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