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Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome is a disease of the pancreas, and the small intestine causes tumors (doctors call them gastrinomas) to form. Symptoms are similar to those of peptic ulcers so the two diseases may be confused. Although the Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES) affects all age groups, it most commonly appears in the young adult to early middle age years. Thankfully, it is quite rare and treatable with medications, but sometimes it could become malignant. Doctors still lack an understanding of what triggers ZES, but they hope that future research will reveal more about how it develops and what measures might prevent its occurrence.

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Pains caused by the release of acid into the stomach

When gastrinomas form in the pancreas or small intestine, they release a large amount of acid into the stomach. This causes the patient a great deal of discomfort. Usually, they feel a burning pain in the area from the waist up to the middle of the chest. This is most likely to occur between meals, but it might also disturb their sleep at night. In some cases, the pains last just a few minutes, but it could continue for a number of hours. The pain eventually goes, but it comes back a few hours or days later. This situation may go on for several months.

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Bad diarrhea

Doctors note how diarrhea is the only ZES symptom some patients experience. It might take a while to get the correct diagnosis since it has so many possible causes. From a probability perspective, the likelihood that diarrhea results from eating some rotten food is much greater. However, if it is possible to eliminate all these more common diarrhea reasons, the doctor may want to check for ZES. For example, they could look for very high levels of gastrin in the patient's bloodstream.

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Appearance of stomach ulcers

The excessive amounts of acid that ZES secretes into the stomach easily damage its lining. These acids may also harm the digestive tract lining to produce peptic ulcers. Patients' experience varies with some of them developing a single ulcer while in other cases they multiply. The appearance of these ulcers in the initial stages of ZES makes it hard to distinguish from a peptic ulcer problem with a different cause. The burning pain in the stomach area and a number of other shared symptoms make it that much harder to diagnose.

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Serious bleeding

Sometimes ZES sufferers will notice blood appears in their stools, or they might even start to vomit blood. Anyone in this disturbing situation will probably become very fearful, and unfortunately, there are good reasons to feel concerned. As you might expect, these symptoms show that the condition has developed serious complications. Anyone who experiences these disturbing symptoms has to appreciate that they face a serious threat to their life. Few are going to ignore these signs, but the urgency of the situation still needs stressing. They need to go immediately to get emergency medical treatment.

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Severe pains in the stomach area

This is another of those ZES symptoms that may develop in the most serious cases. For example, these terrible abdominal pains could indicate that the ulcers have broken through the digestive tract, or perhaps the lining of the stomach has become inflamed. Whatever the mechanism that triggered these pains they pose a very serious risk to the patient's life. Even though it is hard to imagine anyone can ignore this symptom and delay getting medical help, we are obliged to urge an instant response. Even the patient with a specialist's appointment the following day should not wait but rather go right away to the hospital in these circumstances.

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An unwelcome weight loss

The stress placed today on the value of losing weight makes it easy to forget that weight loss is not always a positive sign. Except for people following a diet and exercising to reduce their weight, an unexpected fall in weight indicates a medical problem. The weight decline symptom occurs in a range of illnesses and ZES is one of these. If the patient also feels stomach pains or suffers from diarrhea, the doctor might suspect that ZES lies behind their weight loss.

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Nausea and vomiting

Feelings of nausea and actual vomiting occur with many kinds of illnesses. The cause turns out to be a viral or bacterial infection in a good number of cases, but patients with ZES also sometimes suffer from these symptoms. Similar to the weight loss symptom, nausea and vomiting on their own are unreliable ZES indicators since they have so many other more probable causes. However, if the patient already suffers from one or more of the other ZES symptoms the doctor might discover the common link.

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A tendency to burp

Many people would never imagine that burping could be a disease symptom. People even consider a burp or two after a meal as good manners in some cultures – it shows appreciation for the meal. Everyone burps now and again without paying the matter any thought. In exceptional cases, a few burps too many indicate a problem in the digestive tract and this turns out to be a symptom of ZES. This is another of those symptoms where a ZES connection is unlikely unless other symptoms happen to be evident.

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Loss of appetite

Every mother knows children do not feel like eating when they have some ailment. Adults who develop ZES also sometimes lose their appetite. However, with a multiplicity of factors contributing to poor appetite, this symptom taken on its own is too general for a clear ZES diagnosis. However, when the patient also has the pains and digestive problems associated with this illness, it should not come as a surprise to discover it also deprives them of their normal appetite.

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Feeling very weak

Perhaps the ZES sufferer initially imagines that a virus has caused their general sense of weakness, but if they display other common ZES symptoms, this could also explain why they feel so drained of strength. Eating less due to this illness is another reason why people tend to feel much weaker.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.