Insulinoma is a medical term used for a benign tumor present in the pancreas that produces excess amount of insulin in the body. These tumors are relatively small measuring less than 2 cm in diameter. One of the functions of the pancreas is to process the sugar that one eats. Thus presence of an Insulinoma impairs the processing of sugars in the body increasing the risk of the individual developing diabetes mellitus.
Under normal circumstances, the pancreas stops producing insulin if the sugar level in the body becomes too low. However, in the cases of Insulinoma, the tumor continues to produce insulin thus decreasing the sugar levels in the body further causing severe hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia can be potentially dangerous and tends to cause blurred vision, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness. The frontline treatment for an Insulinoma is surgery to remove the tumor such that the insulin levels come back to normal levels.
Post treatment, in majority of the cases the patient recovers completely from Insulinoma. This article speaks about some of the presenting features of an Insulinoma.
What Are The Presenting Features Of Insulinoma?
Insulinoma in some cases can be completely asymptomatic. However, if symptoms are present they are significantly variable and differ from individual to individual depending on the severity of the condition. The presenting features of an Insulinoma can be classified into mild and severe categories.
Individual with mild symptoms of Insulinoma will experience :
- Blurred vision
- Alteration of mental status
- Irritable mood
- Profuse sweating
- Excessive hunger
- Sudden increase in weight
Severe Symptoms of Insulinoma:
The severe symptoms of Insulinoma can have devastating effects. They tend to include the brain and the adrenal glands. The heart rate of the affected individual can also be affected. The symptoms of severe Insulinoma can resemble that of an epileptic disorder. An individual with severe form of Insulinoma will experience:
- Problems with concentrations
- Loss of consciousness
- Coma in rare cases
- If Insulinoma spreads to other parts of the body then the affected individual may experience:
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Back pain
- Frequent bouts of diarrhea
In conclusion, in some cases Insulinoma does not produce any symptoms and if symptoms are experienced they are significantly variable. The symptoms of Insulinoma can be mild or severe in nature depending on the severity of the disease condition.
Mild cases of Insulinoma will have symptoms typical of hypoglycemia like lightheadedness and blurred vision. The severe forms of Insulinoma can affect the brain and adrenal glands and the presenting features may resemble that of an epileptic disorder with seizures being the primary symptom of the severe form of Insulinoma.
In some cases, Insulinoma can get bigger and spread to the surrounding structures like the liver and produce symptoms like abdominal; pain or jaundice. Thus it is recommended that as soon as a diagnosis is made, the patient should undergo surgical removal of the tumor and get rid of Insulinoma.