The pancreas is a poorly understood and highly underestimated digestive organ. It is hidden deep within our abdomen, behind the stomach. It is responsible for performing the formidable job of digesting fats and is also tasked with the production of important enzymes and hormones (like insulin and glucagon), that are necessary for digestion.
Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most commonly diagnosed type in the world. But it is at the very bottom in terms of survival rates, with pancreatic cancer patients often succumbing before the five-year mark. It also responds badly when it is inflamed. Pancreatic inflammation can result in pancreatitis, which in severe cases, may lead to death.
This humble organ works almost thanklessly when it is healthy. But when it is off, things can go horribly wrong in very little time. The key is to remain aware of the state of your pancreas and keep it constantly healthy and happy. Here are seven warning signals that tell you when your pancreas might be in trouble.
7. Constant Abdominal Pain
There are several things that can cause your stomach to hurt – overeating, eating the wrong foods, menstrual cramps, or poor digestion. But this is the kind of stinging pain that takes over the middle portion of your abdomen (behind the stomach area).
If it descends on you suddenly with no warning whatsoever (like after a meal or after eating certain types of foods), then it is likely to be pancreatitis. The good news is that when it is detected early, its symptoms can be managed through medication and the right changes in lifestyle.
On the other hand, if the pain starts in the middle of your abdomen and then moves towards your back, it could be a warning sign of cancer. Unfortunately, abdomen pains have become so common with our modern lifestyle that we tend to ignore them and carry on. This is the reason pancreatic cancer is often fatal – because it is detected fairly late in its cycle.
The best way to find out the root cause of your pain is to lie down on your back. If this only makes you feel worse, it could be triggered by the pancreas, as they feel even more stifled. This is where we suggest that you have at least a quick chat with your doctor, so you can rest assured that your pancreas is not at risk.
6. Pale Stool
An old adage says, “You can tell a lot about a person’s health by looking at his poop.” Your pancreas is responsible for feeding key enzymes into your intestines to aid digestion. When it is adversely affected, you automatically begin to absorb fewer nutrients from your food, which shows up in your poop. The stool may be oily and less dense, indicating that the food hasn’t been completely broken down and digested.
If this only happens after the odd indulgent meal, you have no cause for worry. But if you notice that your stools steadily stay pale, give your pancreatic problems a break and get yourself checked out by a GP.Related: 10 Foods That Help You Poop