Pancreatic Function and Treatment of Pancreatic Disorders

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Pancreatic Function and Treatment of Pancreatic Disorders
Pancreatic Function and Treatment of Pancreatic Disorders

The function of the pancreas is very important in the digestive system and metabolism. Besides being able to produce hormones, the pancreas also has a main function as an organ that produces enzymes to break down and digest food in the stomach

The pancreas is an organ located behind the abdominal cavity with a length of about 12-18 cm. Organs that are elongated in shape can be disturbed. If the function of the pancreas is disturbed or damaged, digestive problems and other diseases, such as diabetes can occur.

Pancreas Function and Treatment of Pancreatic Disorders - Alodokter

Understanding Pancreas Function

The function of the pancreas is divided into two, namely exocrine and endocrine functions. Here is an explanation of the two functions of the pancreas that you need to understand:

Exocrine function

In addition to the pancreas, exocrine glands are also found in various parts of the body, such as salivary glands in the mouth, sweat glands in the skin, and exocrine glands in the intestines and stomach.

As an exocrine gland, the pancreas functions to produce digestive enzymes which are channeled into the digestive tract. These enzymes have their respective functions, namely:

  • lipase enzymes to break down fat
  • Protease enzymes, including chemotrypsin and trypsin, to digest protein into amino acids
  • amylase enzyme to break down carbohydrates into blood sugar or glucose

Endocrine function

Endocrine glands are glands that channel certain substances into the blood circulation. The function of the endocrine gland in the pancreas is to produce the hormones insulin and glucagon.

The hormone insulin is useful for binding glucose from the blood to be carried to various tissues in the body so that it can be used as energy. The pancreas secretes this hormone to lower blood glucose when levels are too high.

Meanwhile, excess glucose in the body will be stored as glycogen in muscle and liver tissue. This glycogen is useful as an energy reserve when the body needs extra energy.

When glucose levels in the blood are too low, the pancreas will release the hormone glucagon to increase glucose by breaking down glycogen.

Diseases That Can Occur Due To Pancreatic Disorders

A he althy pancreas will produce enzymes and hormones in the right amount and time when we eat. However, if the function of the pancreas is disturbed, this gland will not be able to produce digestive enzymes or the hormone insulin optimally.

This can lead to certain diseases, such as food intolerance and diabetes. Disorders of the pancreas can cause several symptoms, such as reduced appetite, weight loss, fatty stools, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Here are some types of disorders or diseases that can occur when the pancreas is disturbed:

Diabetes type 1 and type 2

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin as it should due to insulin resistance, so blood sugar levels rise and are difficult to control. If not treated properly, over time this disease can cause the pancreas to be unable to produce insulin according to the body's needs.

Meanwhile, type 1 diabetes occurs because the body's immune system attacks normal and he althy pancreatic cells that produce insulin. As a result, insulin can not be formed and the body will have difficulty controlling blood sugar.Type 1 diabetes patients will generally require lifelong insulin injections.

However, in certain cases, type 2 diabetes patients may also need insulin injection therapy, especially if their blood sugar is not controlled with medication.


Pancreatitis is a disease that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and damaged so that it cannot function properly. The main cause of this disease is still unknown, but it is generally more at risk in patients who have gallstones or drink alcohol frequently.

This disease can be acute or chronic. Pancreatitis is classified as acute if it appears suddenly and resolves within a few weeks. If not treated immediately, pancreatitis can persist for months or even years, causing permanent damage to the pancreas.

cystic fibrosis

cystic fibrosis disease or cystic fibrosis is caused by a genetic disorder that causes abnormalities in the pancreas and lungs. This condition can cause digestive problems, respiratory problems, and increase the risk of diabetes.

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a silent deadly disease, because the initial symptoms are not clear. Most pancreatic cancer patients do not even experience any symptoms, so this disease is often only detected when it has entered an advanced or severe stage.

Until now, the cause of pancreatic cancer is not clearly known. However, there are several factors that can make a person more at risk of developing the disease, including genetic or hereditary factors, obesity, a history of diabetes or chronic pancreatitis, to the habit of consuming alcoholic beverages.

Pseudocystic pancreas

A fluid-filled cavity called a pseudocyst can form after pancreatitis occurs. Pancreatic pseudocysts can be treated surgically, but sometimes they can go away on their own.

Pancreatic islet tumor and pancreatic enlargement

Other disorders of the pancreas are pancreatic islet cell tumors, which are conditions that cause a sharp increase in hormone production, as well as enlargement of the pancreas, both of which do not interfere with the function of the pancreas so that treatment is not required or as a result of a disease that requires treatment.

Various Treatments for Pancreatic Disorders

Pancreatic disorders can cause various diseases. Therefore, this condition needs to be checked by a doctor so that it can be treated properly. If you experience problems with pancreatic function, there are several treatments that your doctor can do, including:

1. insulin therapy

Insulin therapy is given by injection into fat tissue, either in the abdomen or in the upper arm. This insulin injection is usually given to people with type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes that can no longer be treated with oral antidiabetic drugs.

Injection of insulin serves to lower blood sugar levels and keep it stable.

2. Enzyme administration

The administration of pancreatic enzymes is given to patients who have cystic fibrosis or food intolerance to nutritional deficiencies. Giving this enzyme is usually done through enzyme supplements.

3. Drainage

Drainage is performed on patients with pancreatic pseudocysts by inserting a needle and tube into the pancreas through the skin in the abdomen. After that, the doctor will connect the tube to the abdominal cavity or intestine. This procedure is done to drain fluid or drain cysts in the pancreas.

4. Pancreatic cancer resection

This operation is performed by removing the gallbladder, part of the pancreas gland, and the base of the small intestine. As an additional therapy, doctors can also give chemotherapy.

5. Pseudocyst surgery

Pseudocyst surgery can be done with open surgical techniques (laparotomy) or laparoscopy. Laparotomy is surgery with a long vertical incision in the abdomen. Meanwhile, laparoscopy is surgery through several small incisions with the help of an instrument equipped with a camera.

Both surgical techniques are performed to remove pancreatic pseudocysts.

6. Islet cell transplant

Islet cell transplantation is still under research and is being carried out to cure type 1 diabetes. This transplant is done by removing the islet cells of the patient and replacing them with pancreatic islet cells from the donor.

7. Pancreatic transplant

Pancreatic transplant can be performed in patients with severe pancreatic disorders or permanent damage to the pancreas, for example due to pancreatitis, diabetes, or cystic fibrosis. This therapy can be done after the patient has found a suitable donor pancreas.

Considering how important the function of the pancreas is, you should take good care of your pancreas. There are several simple ways that can be done to maintain the he alth of this organ, including:

  • Consumption of he althy food with balanced nutrition
  • Regular exercise
  • Keep your ideal weight
  • Quit smoking and reduce or stop consuming alcoholic beverages

If you still have questions about pancreatic function or feel you have symptoms of pancreatic disorders, such as sudden abdominal pain that radiates to the back, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, drastic weight loss for no apparent reason, or there is a lot of oil on stools, do not hesitate to consult a doctor.

Important examination is carried out so that pancreatic disorders can be treated quickly and correctly before permanent damage occurs to this organ.

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