The pancreas is a long, flat gland which sits tucked behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. It produces hormones (that help regulate the way the human body processes sugar) and enzymes (which help digestion).

These digestive enzymes are released via the pancreatic duct into the small intestine where they are activated.

Problems with this organ can lead to a variety of health problems, including:

#1 Pancreatitis

This condition is actually an inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself. An estimated 210,000 cases occur in the United States per year.

There are two types of pancreatitis:

  • acute pancreatitis – it is short-term and may go away in a few days with or without medical treatment;
  • chronic pancreatitis – it can get worse over time and cause lasting damage.

Causes

Causes of pancreatitis may include:

  • alcohol abuse;
  • gallbladder or pancreatic damage from injury or surgery;
  • certain medications containing corticosteroids, estrogen, or certain antibiotics;
  • a serious complication that is caused by certain viruses (Reye’s syndrome);
  • bacterial infections such as mycoplasma;
  • viral infections such as mumps;
  • a disease which happens in children younger than 5 years old (Kawasaki disease);
  • a serious condition which affects the liver, lungs, and pancreas (cystic fibrosis);
  • excessive fats called triglycerides in the blood.

Symptoms

The main symptom of pancreatitis is a dull pain around the top of the stomach. Other symptoms may include:

  • tenderness or swelling of the abdomen;
  • jaundice – yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes;
  • a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above;
  • indigestion;
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea or vomiting.

#2 Pancreatic Cancer

It is the 4th most common cause of cancer death in men and the 4th in women in the United States. It accounts for approximately 37,000 new cases every year.

Symptoms

This type of cancer typically doesn’t exhibit symptoms until it reaches the advanced stages of the disease. Symptoms may include:

  • depression;
  • loss of appetite;
  • jaundice (yellow skin and eyes);
  • blood clots;
  • abdominal or lower back pain;
  • unintentional weight loss.

Causes

Doctors do not know the precise cause of pancreatic cancer, but there are several things which can increase the risk of developing it, including:

Family history – around 8 percent of pancreatic cancers may be associated with a faulty gene which can run in families.

Previous cancer – the condition is slightly more common in people who have had any type of cancer before.

Medical conditions – several medical conditions may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, such as – type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic pancreatitis, and some infections.

Body weight – being overweight or obese may increase the risk of this type of cancer.

Alcohol – regularly drinking large amounts of alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of it.

Nutrition – a diet high in red and processed meat and low in fresh vegetables and fruits may also increase the risk of this type of cancer.

Smoking –  according to the data, 3 in 10 pancreatic cancers may be due to smoking.

Age – it mainly affects people in middle and older age.

#3 Cystic Fibrosis

It is a genetic disorder in which sticky mucus can block tubes in the pancreas. It occurs as a result of a defect cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene.

Spiritual Meaning of Pancreas Disorders

I experience a lot of anger with life because it doesn’t give me any “sweet pleasures”. I want to reject it. I hold a lot of anger and I feel imprisoned because of a person or a situation. I’m in a deadlock and I prefer to stay in place with all the emotions that make me feel helpless because I don’t know how to handle them.

I prefer to give up instead of making an extra effort. I am full of uncertainty. I go with the wave. I don’t have any energy either physically, nor mentally or emotionally. Instead of waiting for “sweet pleasures” to come to me, I am the one who can offer myself such joy, knowing I deserve it.

Prevention

Preventing these diseases is by far the best course of action. Smoking tobacco and second-hand smoke is the clearest risk factor.

Other methods to help prevent pancreatic problems include:

  • having a diet low in fat and rich in dietary fiber;
  • limit or completely avoid alcohol use;
  • exercising regularly;
  • maintaining a healthy weight;
  • reducing your stress levels by spending time in nature and practicing mindfulness meditation.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4091763/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391718/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1349898/