The pancreas is a gland organ that lies in the abdominal area. It becomes part of the digestion system and produces crucial enzymes and hormonal agents that assist break down foods. The pancreas has an endocrine function since it releases juices directly into the bloodstream, and it has an exocrine function due to the fact that it releases juices into ducts.
Pancreas Function in Human Body
Enzymes, or digestion juices, produced by the pancreas are secreted into the small intestine to even more break down food after it has left the stomach. The gland also produces the hormone insulin and secretes it into the blood stream in order to manage the body’s glucose or sugar level. Keep reading to learn more.
What does the pancreas appear like?
The pancreas is a 6 to 10 inch (18 to 25 cm) long organ located behind the stomach in the back of the abdomen. It is spongy and shaped somewhat like a fish that is extended horizontally across the abdominal area. The head of the pancreas is the largest part and lays on the right side of the abdominal area where the stomach is attached to the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum). It is here where the stomach empties partly digested food into the small intestine and this chyme (the semifluid mass of partially digested food expelled by the stomach into the duodenum) combines with the secretions from the pancreas.
The tail or body of the pancreas – its narrowest part – reaches the left side of the abdominal area beside the spleen. There is a duct that runs the length of the pancreas, and it is joined by numerous little branches from the glandular tissue. Completion of this duct is linked to a similar duct that originates from the liver, which delivers bile to the duodenum.
There are two main types of tissue found in the pancreas: exocrine tissue and endocrine tissue. The majority of the pancreas – about 95% – is exocrine tissue that produces pancreatic enzymes to aid digestion. A healthy pancreas makes about 2.2 pints (1 liter) of these enzymes every day.
The rest of the pancreas is composed of numerous thousands of endocrine cells referred to as islets of Langerhans. These grape-like cell clusters produce important hormones that control pancreatic secretions and control blood sugar level.
Fast facts on the pancreas
Here are some key points about the pancreas. More information and supporting information remains in the primary post.
- The pancreas lies in the abdomen and is a gland organ.
- It is an important part of the gastrointestinal system, producing enzymes and hormonal agents that assist break down foods.
- The pancreas is a 6 to 10 inch organ and is located behind the stomach.
- It is fish shaped and extends horizontally throughout the abdomen.
- A healthy pancreas produces the correct chemicals to efficiently absorb the food we eat.
- The endocrine part of the pancreas is comprised of numerous cells that produce hormones straight into the blood stream.
- Insulin is a hormonal agent produced by pancreatic beta cells in response to a rise in blood glucose.
- Severe or chronic swelling of the pancreas could represent an existence of pancreatitis.
- It is possible for cancer to establish in the pancreas.
- To help keep the pancreas healthy and functioning, a balanced diet should be preserved together with an avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol.
What does the pancreas do?
A healthy pancreas has the ability to produce the right chemicals at the right times in the right amounts in order to effectively digest the food we eat. After food enters the duodenum, the exocrine tissues produce a clear, watery, alkaline juice that contains numerous enzymes that break down food into little molecules that can be absorbed by the intestines. These enzymes include:
- Trypsin and chymotrypsin to absorb proteins
- Amylase to break down carbohydrates
- Lipase, to break down fats into fatty acids and cholesterol
The endocrine portion of the pancreas, or islets of Langerhans, is made up of several cells that produce hormones directly into the blood stream. Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreatic beta cells in action to an increase in blood sugar level. The hormonal agent likewise moves glucose from the blood into muscles and other tissues so they can use it for energy. In addition, insulin assists the liver soak up glucose, keeping it as glycogen in case the body requires energy during stress or exercise.
Also read: Carbohydrates and Cholesterol Levels
Glucagon is a hormonal agent secreted by pancreatic alpha cells when there is a reduction in blood sugar. Its main job is to cause glycogen to be broken down into glucose in the liver. This glucose then gets in the bloodstream in order to restore the level to normal.
What issues are connected with the pancreas?
For the majority of people, the pancreas operates as it must with little mention or fanfare. However, it is an organ and efficient in malfunction. For instance, a pancreas that fails to produce adequate digestion enzymes can cause weight reduction and diarrhea since of inadequately absorbed food.
The islets of Langerhans are responsible for controling blood sugar. If these cells do not produce adequate insulin, there is a boost in diabetes risk as blood glucose levels rise.
Pancreatitis is a disease characterized by severe or chronic inflammation of the pancreas. Swelling can happen if the primary duct from the pancreas is obstructed by a gallstone or tumor. This blockage leads to pancreatic juices collecting in the organ, which may harm the pancreas or result in the pancreas in fact absorbing itself. Pancreatitis is likewise understood to be a problem related to mumps, alcohol use, steroids, trauma, and drugs.
Although intense pancreatitis is unusual, it does need immediate medical attention. Symptoms consist of intense stomach pain, abdominal tenderness and swelling, queasiness and vomiting, fever, and muscle pains. Pancreatitis is normally first treated with pain relievers. Patients will stop ingesting solid food, rather acquiring fluid and nutrition by intravenous ways. At some point – especially when pancreatitis causes secondary infections – surgery is needed.
When acute pancreatitis repeats itself to cause irreversible damage to the organ, the condition is called chronic pancreatitis. Alcohol abuse is the most typical reason for chronic pancreatitis, primarily impacting middle-aged men. The condition has symptoms such as persistent pain in the upper abdominal area and back, weight loss, diarrhea, diabetes, and moderate jaundice.
It is likewise possible for cancer to establish in the pancreas. Frequently, it is challenging for physicians to spot the precise reason for pancreatic cancer, however it is often connected to smoking or heavy drinking. Other risk factors include diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, liver issues, and stomach infections. Pancreatic cancer is also more typical in men than women and amongst African-Americans than amongst whites.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may not appear till the cancer is in sophisticated stages – typically too late for effective treatment. The condition frequently presents:
- Pain in the upper abdomen from the growth pressing against nerves
- Jaundice – a pain-free yellowing of the skin and eyes and darkening of the urine, developed when the cancer interferes with the bile duct and the liver
- Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
- Substantial weight reduction and weakness
- Acholic stool (pale or grey stool) and steatorrhea (excess fat in stool)
Treating pancreatic cancer is hard, and the diagnosis has the tendency to be bad. Patients generally get surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a mix of treatments. Frequently, the treatment is palliative, focusing on reducing pain.
Scientists from the British Dental Foundation reported in the journal GUT that gum disease can raise the risk of establishing pancreatic cancer.
Medical News Today consists of a special area all about pancreatic cancer. You can see the pancreatic cancer information here.
How can a healthy pancreas be preserved?
Preserving a sensible, well balanced diet and avoiding smoking cigarettes and drinking will help keep the pancreas healthy and functioning.