Pancreas is Functioning Badly? Easily Understand by Seeing These Signs [Detail]

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Pancreas is Functioning Badly? Easily Understand by Seeing These Signs. The pancreas is a vital organ that plays an essential role in regulating blood sugar levels and aiding digestion. Unfortunately, many people are unaware their pancreas is functioning poorly until more serious complications arise. Knowing the signs of declining pancreatic function can help catch problems early and guide preventative treatment. This article will cover the most common symptoms that may indicate your pancreas is struggling and help you understand when to see a doctor.

Pancreas is Functioning Badly

Blood Sugar Regulation Issues

One of the pancreas’s most important jobs is managing insulin and glucagon to control blood sugar balance. When the pancreas isn’t working right, this regulation becomes disrupted, resulting in high or low blood glucose outside the normal range. Here are some key signs your blood sugar is fluctuating due to pancreatic problems:

  • Hypoglycemia – Blood sugar crashing below 70 mg/dL can cause shakiness, fatigue, confusion, seizures in severe lows. This may indicate insulin overproduction or a tumor influencing insulin release.
  • Hyperglycemia & Pre-Diabetes – Fasting blood sugar levels consistently over 100 mg/dL signal your body isn’t processing insulin properly. This cells aren’t getting glucose, indicating pancreatic cell damage or insulin resistance.
  • Diabetes – High blood sugar levels that eventually progress to diabetes almost always indicate the pancreas has lost function and can no longer produce insulin. Weight loss, increased thirst/urination, and blurry vision can occur.

Digestive Difficulties

The pancreas supplies important enzymes to break down fats, proteins, and carbs. If these enzymes are lacking, it causes diarrhea, greasy stools, gas, weight loss, or malnutrition. Specific signs of poor digestion due to the pancreas include:

  • Foul-smelling stool with extra fat/oil – This means your body isn’t sufficiently breaking down fat from foods due to inadequate lipase production in a damaged pancreas.
  • Weight loss – Getting inadequate nutrients from food due to digestive issues prevents weight maintenance over time.
  • Frequent, smelly gas – If undigested lactose and other carbs end up in the colon, it can cause excessive gas.
  • Diarrhea – Stools may turn loose, urgent, foul-smelling, or fatty due to missing digestive enzymes.

Abdominal Pain

One of the classic signs of a struggling pancreas is upper abdominal pain that feels worse after eating. This occurs because the organ has to strain itself to produce more enzymes than its damaged cells can handle to try breaking down a meal. Key characteristics of pancreatic pain include:

  • Sharp/stabbing sensation in upper middle abdomen just below ribs
  • Pain starts 30-60 minutes after eating then persists for hours
  • Pain gets worse when lying down flat
  • Pain lessens with leaning forward or fetal position
  • Pain may radiate to upper back in pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)

Unexplained Weight Loss

Accelerating weight loss without actively cutting calories usually only happens for a few reasons – hyperthyroidism, cancer, or pancreatic problems being some big ones. The pancreas plays an important role in nutrient absorption and metabolism. Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency can therefore lead to:

  • Losing >10lbs unintentionally over 6-12 months
  • Feeling constantly hungry even after eating meals
  • Muscle loss and weakness from malnutrition
  • Diarrhea or digestive issues that also contribute to weight loss

Oily, Floating Stools

Healthy stools should sink when you flush. Oily, foul-smelling stools that float signal fat digestion issues from inadequate lipase enzymes. Paired with other symptoms like weight loss and upper abdominal pain, floaters point to pancreatic problems.

Yellowing Skin/Eyes (Jaundice)

Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes indicating an accumulation of bilirubin from old red blood cells. While many issues can cause jaundice, it may also happen from pancreas disease like cancer blocking bile drainage from the liver. Pay attention if yellowing occurs alongside pancreas-related symptoms.

Nausea & Vomiting

While nausea can have many causes, consistent vomiting without explanation may indicate pancreatic troubles. Left untreated, persistent vomiting from pancreatic dysfunction can result in electrolyte imbalances or rapid weight loss.

Diabetes That’s Difficult to Control

It’s expected for blood sugars to periodically go too high or too low when you have diabetes. However, if your sugars swing out of control despite closely following your doctor’s medication and lifestyle advice, your pancreas may be failing. Getting diagnosed with diabetes later in life, needing insulin early on, or problems managing blood sugar that start before age 50 all suggest type 3c diabetes resulting from declining pancreatic function. Discuss getting your pancreatic cell function assessed if this fits your situation.

What Should Blood Sugar Be 2 Hours After Eating?

Normal blood sugar two hours after starting a meal is less than 140 mg/dL. Consistently going over 160-180 mg/dL indicates your body isn’t processing insulin effectively, signaling problems like insulin resistance. Speak to your doctor if your 2-hour post-meal blood sugars are staying elevated despite dietary changes. They can help identify if pancreatic issues or pre-diabetes is to blame.

Can You Repair Pancreas Damage?

Early on, some pancreatic cell damage can be reversed through improving diet and metabolic health. However, there comes a tipping point where loss of pancreatic function becomes irreversible. The goal is catching declining pancreas performance before it progresses to serious disease like diabetes or pancreatitis. If related symptoms arise, get evaluated promptly for the best chance of recovery.

What Foods Are Good For Pancreas Health?

Nutrient-dense whole foods provide critical antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits to support pancreatic cell health. Some top pancreas-friendly diet choices include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines
  • Leafy greens – spinach, kale, swiss chard
  • Bright colored fruits – berries, citrus, mango
  • Tree nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews
  • Green tea and turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, avocado

Eat a balanced mix focusing on plant-based options while limiting processed carbs, and red/processed meats when possible. Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol/tobacco use as well.

When Should I See A Doctor About Pancreas Problems?

Don’t ignore consistent signs your pancreas may not be working well – seek attention promptly for the best chance of reversing damage before permanent diabetes or other complications set in. Make an appointment right away if you experience:

  • Recurrent low blood sugar below 70 mg/dL
  • Difficulty controlling type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Blood sugar over 200 mg/dL two hours after meals
  • Frequent hypoglycemia unawareness (can’t feel lows)
  • Persistent greasy diarrhea, weight loss, gas, or abdominal pain
  • Yellowing skin (jaundice)
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer

Ask your doctor to check your pancreatic enzyme output, test insulin production response, screen for gene markers of pancreas disease, or image your pancreas. Catching dysfunction early makes a major difference in prognosis and avoiding advanced issues later on.

Sign Description
Hypoglycemia Blood sugar dropping below 70 mg/dL causes shakes, fatigue, confusion
Hyperglycemia/Pre-diabetes Fasting blood sugar consistently over 100 mg/dL signals insulin issues
Diabetes Inability to produce insulin leads to unmanaged high blood sugar
Foul-smelling, fatty stools Missing digestive enzymes prevents breaking down fat fully
Weight loss Not getting nutrients from food causes dropping pounds
Excessive gas Undigested carbs in colon create smelly gas
Diarrhea Lack of enzymes makes stools loose and urgent
Abdominal pain Pancreas strains itself to produce enzymes, causing pain
Unexplained weight loss Pancreas problems can lead to dropping weight fast
Oily, floating stools Stools float when fat isn’t properly broken down
Jaundice Pancreas issues may block bile, causing yellowed skin/eyes
Nausea & vomiting Consistent vomiting is a potential pancreatic symptom
Difficult to control diabetes Failure of pancreatic cell function makes managing blood sugars very tough


Pancreatic troubles often develop slowly over years before symptoms arise. Pay attention to your body – significant fatigue, weight loss, blood sugar ups and downs, changes in digestion, yellowing skin, and persistent upper abdominal discomfort can all be subtle signs your pancreas needs support. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol intake to encourage pancreatic health. Act promptly if you notice potential red flags to prevent permanent damage that progresses to diabetes, pancreatitis, deficiency, or even cancer in worst cases. Safeguarding your pancreas function will pay lifelong dividends for your blood sugar regulation, nutrient absorption, metabolism and quality of life.