Health & Wellness

What Does the Pancreas do: 7 Symptoms of Pancreas Problems you must know!

What Does the Pancreas do: Pancreas, the gland organ in the abdomen is part of the digestive system. It has exocrine and endocrine functions. The two important functions of the pancreas are digestion and regulation of insulin in the blood.

It releases digestive enzymes trypsin, chymotrypsin, amylase, lipase that break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It helps in the conversion of food into fuel and releases energy.

Pancreases are also composed of islets of Langerhans that release two important hormones, insulin and glucagon. Insulin is important to regulate blood sugar in the body.

A certain diabetic population is advised to take insulin injections to control blood sugar. Glucagon helps in controlling raised blood sugar levels. The two hormones work in conjunction with each other.

A high blood sugar level affects the kidney, liver, heart, and brain. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and early detection and treatment is difficult. Pancreatic cancer patients can survive for about 5 years.

There will not be any sudden onset of the disease without producing signs and symptoms, an individual should analyze the compromised working of the body to detect diseases and early intervention.

7 Symptoms of Pancreas Problems:

1. Changes in the Stool:

In people suffering from pancreatic diseases, there will be an incomplete breakdown of the food (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). The pancreas is also responsible for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, E and K).

As the oily ingredients do not get absorbed, you can find the stool will be sticky and oily in texture and also the region, the same can also be seen in the tissue paper.

There will be inadequate nutrients for absorption. Due to the lack of nutrients the stool will be lighter in color and less dense. Another indication of the pancreatic disease is, the stool will be floating.

The impaired release of the digestive enzymes causes changes in the stool. In pancreatitis, the stools will be oily and smelly (steatorrhea). Do consult your doctor if you see any of these symptoms as early intervention can help in early diagnosis and treatment. 

2. Abdominal Pain:

It can be an indication of pancreatic cancer and or pancreatitis. Both the disease needs prompt attention and should immediately consult a doctor. The intensity of pain varies depending upon the underlying condition.

The pain in the middle of your abdomen or lower back can be an indication of pancreatic cancer. The doctor often mistakes the pancreatic pain to acid reflux or GERD and prescribe medicines for it.

The symptoms of abdominal pain won’t show any symptoms of improvement with anti-ulcer or pain medications. The pancreatic pain will be sudden and intense with severity in the middle of your abdomen.

ALSO READ: Best Home Remedies for Abdominal Pain

3. Diabetes:

The pancreas has endocrine functions that release hormone insulin in the body. If there is any damage to the pancreas then there will be decreased or impaired release of insulin.

An individual with ideal weight, a healthy diet and exercise who still experience a rise in blood sugar, it requires a proper examination to identify the exact cause.

If there is a sudden increase in the blood sugar levels without any specific reasons, your doctor may advise you to check for the functioning of the pancreas.

Such individuals find it hard to control sugar with regular medications. People suffering from diabetes either have low insulin released or the insulin receptors become insensitive.

Sudden onset of diabetes or suddenly increased levels of sugars is an indication that your pancreas needs attention.

RELATED : 10 Early Warning Signs of Diabetes Everyone Should Know!

4. Nausea and Vomiting:

The pancreas is associated with the digestive system, and any malfunctioning in the pancreas affects the digestive process. Pancreatic enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of fatty food and the fat-digesting capacity.

Especially when taking fatty foods, people feel nauseated. People with compromised pancreas should avoid all kinds of fatty fruits, nuts, vegetables, and foods. Nausea and vomiting can be due to pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

5. Weight loss:

If there is constant and steady weight loss along with pain in the abdomen, then it is likely that the weight loss is associated with pancreatic diseases.

One should also not rule out the possibility of thyroid diseases or other health conditions. If you see persistent weight loss than make sure you visit a doctor and do a complete examination.

6. Jaundice:

In pancreatic cancer, the cancer cells grow and block the bile duct that impairs the release of bile juice. The bile build’s up in the blood that turns skin and eyes yellow.

People suffering from jaundice have itching, dark urine, and light-colored stools.

7. Bloating:

There is frequent bloating and gas build-u in the body. Ascites causes the abdomen to swell and stretch out.

Do’s and Don’ts in Pancreatic Disease:


  • Reduce the intake of fat as fatty foods are difficult to get absorbed in people with pancreatic disease
  • Increase the intake of proteins
  • Stop smoking
  • Stop chewing tobacco
  • Stop alcohol intake
  • Weight control

Do consult a physician for the second opinion about diagnosis and treatment plan. If the diagnosis is about pancreatic cancer, then look for a specialist who has prior experience of dealing with pancreatic cancer.

Discuss your signs and symptoms of the disease with the doctor and utilize the services of a dietician. A nutritious diet considering the changes in the body is important.

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  • Avoid meat
  • Fat and fatty foods (nuts and nut butter, fried foods, etc
  • Cheeses, butter, cream, regular milk, and ice cream
  • Don’t take dietary supplements without any medical supervision
pancreas diet
pancreas diet

Emotional support and medications work in conjunction with each other to control and prevent the progression of the disease.

Indigestion, weight loss, bloating, jaundice, nausea, and vomiting may sound an indication of acidity and indigestion or jaundice, but it can also indicate your pancreas is in trouble.

If the above symptoms are accompanied by abdominal pain, it can indicate pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer; such patients should see a doctor immediately.

The disease may worsen with time; hence control of diet and medical supervision is important. Avoid the intake of fatty food as the compromised pancreas cannot digest it.

Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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