Originally published May 5 2008
Is It Your Stomach or Is It Your Pancreas That's Causing Pain?
by Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.
(NaturalNews) While your Pancreas may not be something that you think about very often, it might just be time to take notice of this vitally important organ. Becoming in tune with the voice of your body can help you maintain good health and alert you to potential health concerns. The more knowledge that you have about your body, the easier it becomes to recognize those symptoms that something may not be right. By listening to the warning signs of your pancreas, you could potentially avoid developing diabetes, heart disease and even prevent pancreatic cancer.
The pancreas is located behind your stomach and attached via ducts to both the gall bladder and the small intestines. Comprised of exocrine tissues and endocrine tissues, the pancreas is an important organ for two reasons: It both regulates blood sugar levels within the body and aids in the digestion of food. If either of these functions failed to work properly, disease would rapidly ensue.
Food digestion involves several organs and various steps before the process is fully completed. The pancreas falls somewhere in the middle of the digestive process, yet provides the important role of secreting enzymes that are sent to the small intestines to neutralize acids and break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins. When the pancreas produces these enzymes they are inactive and do not become activated until they arrive in the small intestines.
The pancreas also regulates blood sugar levels by releasing the hormone insulin when glucose levels become elevated. Glucose is a simple sugar that our bodies derive from the foods that we eat. It enters the bloodstream after a meal and is the necessary nutrient to provide energy to the cells of the body. When the pancreas detects elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream it sends out insulin to facilitate the sugar's entrance into the cells. Glucose cannot enter the cells without insulin. When blood sugar levels have returned to normal, the pancreas slows down the release of insulin.
Recognizing the Pancreas' Voice
Symptoms such as abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, loss of appetite and constipation can all be signs that something serious is wrong with the pancreas. Since these symptoms also could be attributed to a myriad of other health problems, they often are dismissed as insignificant. If the above symptoms are accompanied by itchy skin, jaundice or unexplained weight loss then you might be faced with something more than just your average stomachache.
Pancreatitis is a rare but serious infection that can be either acute or chronic. In the acute form, pancreatitis comes on rapidly and is characterized by abdominal pain and swelling, fever, muscle aches and a drop in blood pressure. The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is a gallstone blocking one of the pancreatic ducts causing the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas to become trapped within the organ. These enzymes, which are normally inactive while in the pancreas, become activated and cause damage and infection to the lining of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis can also be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, poor eating habits or trauma to the pancreas. Regardless of the cause, acute pancreatitis requires immediate attention by a health care provider. With the proper treatment, acute pancreatitis generally clears up within 5 days.
Chronic pancreatitis occurs when acute pancreatitis persists or becomes recurrent and usually follows years of alcohol abuse. In addition to the symptoms caused by acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis may also cause weight loss. This weight loss occurs because the pancreas' ability to produce digestive enzymes has become diminished, impairing the absorption of nutrients such as fat, protein and sugar.
People with chronic pancreatitis are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Other risk factors for pancreatic cancer include excessive alcohol consumption, high fat diets and smoking. Research has shown that smokers are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who do not smoke. Pancreatic cancer affects men twice as frequently as women and is more likely to develop after the age of 40.
Chronic pancreatitis often leads to diabetes as well. The insulin producing cells within the pancreas become damaged and begin producing sub-standard insulin or fail to produce insulin completely. Without insulin, glucose is unable to gain access to the cells and is left to linger in the bloodstream. Eventually the glucose is excreted through urine, creating a sweet odor. The body cells, without their vital glucose, essentially starve.
A diabetic state can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage and blindness. Once diabetes has taken hold, the body can never go back to its pre-diabetic state. Blood sugar levels will have to be monitored on a regular basis and the use of therapeutic insulin may become necessary. Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger and fatigue.
Listening to the messages that your body sends out could mean catching disease early, while it's still possible to treat. Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and diabetes can all be deadly if ignored. However, if detected early on, a treatment plan can be put into place by your doctor that may effectively manage the illness or disease. I also recommend perfectlyhealthy supplements called pH Plus, Mega Greens plus MSM and Metabolic Rx along with a proper diet (that excludes sugar), and proper exercise to help manage the illness.
Tune into your body's frequency and enjoy the rewards of good health!
About the authorLeigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols.
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit www.perfectlyhealthy.net or www.perfectlyhealthy.com.
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