The pancreas is an approximately 6 inches long organ which is located in the abdomen, in front of the spine and aorta and behind the stomach. It does two main things:
- it releases the hormones glucagon (a hormone which helps the body to control blood glucose levels) and insulin into the bloodstream;
- it releases digestive enzymes into the small intestine to improve the digestion of food.
It is an inflammation of the pancreas. There are two types – acute pancreatitis (AP) and chronic pancreatitis (CP).
AP usually develops suddenly and typically lasts a few days to weeks. This condition commonly resolves with appropriate medical management. An estimated 210,000 adults in the United States are admitted to the hospital for AP per year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
CP is inflammation of the pancreas which does not heal or improve but it gets worse over time. If this condition is left untreated, it may lead to permanent damage.
Common symptoms of AP may include:
- tenderness when touching the abdomen;
- rapid pulse;
- abdominal pain which feels worse after eating;
- abdominal pain which radiates to your back;
- upper abdominal pain.
Common symptoms of CP may include:
- oily, smelly stools;
- unexplained weight loss;
- upper abdominal pain.
The most common cause of AC is gallstones. However, a rise in alcoholic beverages intake is strongly associated with this condition. Alcohol accounts for over 30% of cases. Other causes include:
- high calcium levels in the blood;
- high triglyceride levels in the blood;
- ingested intake of medicines.
There are many causes of CP but the most frequent cause is long-term alcohol abuse with an estimated 70% of cases are linked to alcohol. Other causes include:
- high level of triglyceride fats in the blood;
- high blood levels of calcium;
- cystic fibrosis – a genetic disorder which affects mostly the lungs, however, it also affects the pancreas, kidneys, liver, and intestine;
- a blockage of the pancreatic duct by either pancreatic stones or gallstones;
- a narrow pancreatic duct;
- primary biliary cholangitis – a chronic liver disease associated with chronic pancreatitis;
- inflammatory bowel syndrome – an inflammation of the digestive tract.
Pancreatic Cancer (PC)
It occurs when a cell in the pancreas acquires damage to its DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which causes it to behave and multiply abnormally. This type of cancer can occur in any part of the pancreas, however, more than 70 percent of pancreatic cancers are located in the head of the pancreas.
In the United States, PC is the 5th most common cause of cancer death in women and the 4th in men. This cancer accounts for approximately 37,000 new cases a year.
In the United Kingdom, about 9,600 people get PC each year. It is the eleventh most common type of cancer.
Common symptoms may include:
- jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes);
- pain in the upper abdomen;
- the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus;
- loss of appetite;
- severe back pain;
- changed bowel motions;
- weight loss without dieting;
The precise causes of PC are not known, nevertheless, it is thought that smoking, diabetes, age, alcohol, obesity, and genetics may increase the risk.
Spiritual Meaning of Pancreatic Disorders (Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer)
Pancreas represents your ability to express and integrate love within yourself and your ability to manage the feelings opposite to love without causing pain.
A difficulty in the pancreas indicates that there are clutter and confusion in your emotions, causing a difficulty in digestion. You want to keep control and power over others, you become nervous inside, and the respect for yourself lowers. It’s like there’s an inner struggle when confronted with obstacles, you’re afraid of new challenges and you become exhausted in the battle, which leads to low energy levels.
These medical problems also arise in people who think they do not deserve to enjoy anything in life and often please others instead of prioritizing their own needs. Individuals experience great sadness inside, which they manage to hide very well.
According to research, individuals who smoked the equivalent of at least one pack of cigarettes a day for two decades have more than 100 percent increased pancreas problems than non-smokers have.
Don’t Drink Alcoholic Beverages
These conditions can be prevented or reduced by stopping alcohol consumption since about 7 out of 10 cases of CP are due to long-term heavy drinking.
A regular moderate physical activity helps you lose extra weight. This is beneficial for pancreatic problems prevention because being overweight or obese increases your chances to develop gallstones, which put you at greater risk for AP.
A pancreatic diet is a low-fat diet with no more than 20g of fat per day. You should include the following foods in your regular diet – sweet potatoes, red cabbage, lentils, oats, oat bran, quinoa, radishes, red kidney beans, chickpeas, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, garlic, red onions, apples, pears, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, and turnips.