Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a condition where the duodenum and pancreas develop one or more tumors or gastrinomas that secrete excessive quantities of a hormone referred to as gastrin. The exact causes of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome are not clear, but a connection with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 has been established in some patients. Diagnosis of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is made with the use of medical history, blood tests, endoscopic ultrasound, CT scans, MRIs, somatostatin receptor scintigraphy, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and tissue biopsy. Treatment for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome focuses on addressing the tumor, excessive hormone levels, and the ulcers they produce. Methods of treatment may include tumor excision surgery, surgical debulking of the liver, tumor embolization, radiofrequency ablation, chemotherapy, liver transplantation, and proton pump inhibitors.
Several serious symptoms are indicative of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Get familiar with them now.
Abdominal Pain Or Discomfort
An individual affected by abdominal pain or discomfort may be affected by Zollinger-Ellison syndrome as the underlying cause of their symptoms. The two areas in the body affected by Zollinger-Ellison syndrome are in the upper abdomen. The duodenum is the junction where the stomach meets the small intestine, and the pancreas is a gland located just behind the stomach. Tumors that develop in these areas can cause numerous complications before hormones are added into the equation. Tumors can produce obstructions the keep food from moving through the digestive system properly and can clog ducts where important enzymes drain into the small intestine to assist with digestion. The tumors that develop in these parts of the body are called gastrinomas because they secrete too much gastrin. Gastrin is a hormone that tells the stomach to produce more stomach acid, so excessive amounts of gastrin lead to excessive amounts of gastric acid. Too much acid in the stomach causes diarrhea and ulcers responsible for causing the pain and discomfort in the abdominal region.
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Nausea And Vomiting
A Zollinger-Ellison syndrome patient can develop tumors in their duodenum, the bottom section of the stomach that joins their small intestine. This tumor produces a hormone called gastrin that causes an increase in the production of gastric acid by the stomach. Too much acid in the stomach can cause the lining to become irritated, inflamed, and ulcerated in many cases. The excess acid in the stomach can produce a sour taste in the mouth that may cause the patient to become nauseated. The excess acid can also cause the individual to frequently cough and belch, which can also cause them to feel nauseated and vomit. The stomach inflammation from the excessive production of acid can cause the esophagus and other muscles that control digestive components to experience spasms. These spasms in the gastrointestinal tract can cause an individual to vomit.
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An individual with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome develops tumors in their pancreas or duodenum. These tumors make too much gastrin, which induces the production of an excessive amount of stomach acid. The acidic contents move into the intestines and can cause damage to the mucous lining and underlying intestinal tissues. When the intestines become inflamed from internal acidic erosion, it can cause the muscles and nerves around them to become irritated as well. The muscles contract frequently and inappropriately when the areas around them become inflamed, which causes the food in the intestines to move through the digestive tract too quickly. The large intestine is responsible for the absorption of fluids from the stool before it is excreted from the body. However, the stool must move at a certain pace through the large intestine to give its lining enough time to perform this function. Inflammation in and around the intestine causes the stool to move through the large intestine before it absorbs enough fluid. This mechanism is what causes an affected individual to experience episodic diarrhea.
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Reduced appetite describes when an individual has a decreased desire to eat the same way they normally would. An individual's appetite is influenced by many different factors that can be influenced by several different medical and mental conditions. A Zollinger-Ellison syndrome patient can develop malignant tumors in their pancreas and stomach. Malignant tumors in the glands and digestive organs tend to produce decreased appetite in an affected individual due to the mechanical nature of cancer and other factors. An individual may experience decreased appetite if they have Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and have a benign tumor in their duodenum that obstructs the proper and timely movement of food through their digestive system. A patient may also experience a reduced appetite if they develop ulcers in the lining of their stomach due to the excessive production of gastric acid and gastrin by the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome-precipitated tumor.
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Digestive Tract Bleeding
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome causes the stomach to produce too much gastric acid, making the stomach contents more acidic than they should be. When the stomach contents are more acidic than usual, the internal mucosal lining of the organ can experience erosion and tissue damage as a result. Tissue damage and breaches in the protective mucous layer of both the stomach and intestines can cause the development of gastric and intestinal ulcers. This tissue damage in the stomach and intestines causes the tiny blood vessels that provide the area with blood to become damaged or ruptured. When the tiny blood vessels in the tissues of the stomach and intestines leak blood into the contents, it can show up in vomit or stool. Bleeding in the stomach and the first section of the small intestine has more time to clot up before it is excreted and takes on an appearance similar to tar or coffee grounds in the stool. Bleeding in the last segment of the small intestine and the large intestine does not have as much time to clot up before it is excreted, so it can appear as bright red or maroon blood that can be mixed with mucus in the stool.