Dysfunction of pancreas in children can lead to diabetes or acute pancreatitis. Read on, to know symptoms of pancreas problems in children, as early detection of the problems helps prevent serious health complications….
Pancreas is situated behind the stomach, near the duodenum. It is relatively a large gland and plays a significant role in maintaining blood glucose levels by releasing the hormones insulin and glucagon. Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis which is more common in adults than in children. Children are more likely to suffer from acute pancreatitis (sudden inflammation) than chronic pancreatitis. When the condition (inflammation) does not improve, but aggravates over time and causes permanent damage, it is called chronic. Let us first take a look at the functions of pancreas.
Along with the hormones insulin and glucagon, pancreas also produces digestive enzymes. These digestive juices are transferred to the duodenum, the first part of small intestine, through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Both endocrine and exocrine functions of pancreas help the body to function properly. Bile produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder. Pancreatic duct and bile duct join the duodenum. Pancreatic enzymes and bile promote digestion of food. Acute or chronic pancreatitis, diabetes and pancreatic cancer are the main disorders related to pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is rare in children.
When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the enzymes in the pancreas damage the tissues which produce them. This condition is called pancreatitis. In children, acute pancreatitis may occur which is as serious as chronic pancreatitis. The condition requires prompt medication. If overlooked or misinterpreted, it may lead to serious complications. Prompt treatment avoids worsening of the situation. If the condition worsens, it may result in bleeding, infection and permanent tissue damage. With proper treatment, acute pancreatitis resolves in a few days.
The main cause of inflammation of pancreas is presence of gallstones in the common bile duct. Gallstones are small pebble like masses made of hardened bile. As they pass through common bile duct, they irritate the pancreas and lead to inflammation of pancreas. Alcohol abuse, abdominal trauma, use of certain medications, infections, tumors and genetic abnormalities of the pancreas are some other causes of inflammation of pancreas.
Symptoms of Pancreas Problems
Pancreatic cancer is usually asymptomatic during early stages. Diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, backache, itching sensation, abdominal pain can be present but as these symptoms are commonly noticed during several situations, they are mostly overlooked. Changes in taste, enlarged gallbladder, jaundice (as the tumor can block the bile duct and can lead to impaired liver function), fever, blood clots in the peripheral blood vessels can also be symptoms of pancreas problems.
Any problem in pancreas leads to blood glucose level fluctuations and digestion problems. So sudden detection of diabetes needs thorough investigation. Increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, high blood glucose level, slow healing wounds, blurred vision, increased fatigue and weight loss are the symptoms of diabetes onset.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis in children include gradual or sudden pain in the upper abdomen, a swollen and tender abdomen, nausea and vomiting, fever and high pulse rate. In the beginning, the pain might be mild but it may worsen as time elapses. It may spread towards back. Usually, the pain increases after eating. The child may look very ill. If the condition worsens, it may lead to dehydration and low blood pressure. Worsening of the situation can result in failure of the heart, lungs or kidneys. Bleeding in the pancreas can lead to shock and can prove to be fatal.
Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, being common symptoms of various health problems, are usually overlooked. But it is necessary to know that pancreas problems in children can exhibit these symptoms and they need prompt medical attention.