An Overview Of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

Many people experience some type of digestive issue during their lifetime. In most instances, said individuals might assume these health issues are caused by stomach or intestinal disorders. However, that is not always the case. For certain persons, digestive problems are precipitated by an ailment known as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). This brief blog will examine what this condition is, the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

EPI Overview

This pancreatic disorder occurs when the body fails to produce a sufficient concentration of substances called exocrine pancreatic enzymes. These chemicals execute an integral role in the digestion process and those afflicted experience a wide array of digestive problems.

Causes

In certain instances, EPI can be precipitated by what medical professionals categorize as pancreatic causes. Said conditions impact the organ’s function and include ailments such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis and pancreatic duct obstruction. That said, the disorder can also be brought forth by non-pancreatic causes including nutrient absorption problems like celiac disease and significant digestive maladies like Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms

The occurrence and severity of the physical manifestations associated with EPI can vary depending upon the specific underlying cause and said condition’s severity. However, EPI is known to produce several common symptoms like abdominal discomfort, excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, as well as oily or smelly stools. If EPI or its precipitating condition is severe or left untreated, complications such as internal bleeding, bone pain and intestinal obstructions could occur.

Diagnosis

Because EPI often mimics the manifestations produced by many other digestive ailments, both sufferers and doctors might fail to consider said illness. Therefore, diagnosis of said condition might take some time and require a physician to perform a thorough physical examination but additionally employ specific diagnostic tools such as blood tests, fecal occult tests, CT and MRI scans and ultrasound.

Potential Treatment Options

Specific therapeutic protocols will often be dictated by the underlying condition, said ailment’s progression and severity and the specific manifestations the patient is experiencing. That said, there are several treatments healthcare professionals might prescribe to combat EPI. Specific remedial efforts include consuming a healthy diet free of or greatly limiting one’s intake of greasy, fatty, salt-laden products, Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT), in which patients are administered tablets containing said substances and various medications to control specific symptoms.

Sources:

1. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/exocrine-pancreatic-insufficiency#2-6
2. https://pancreasfoundation.org/patient-information/ailments-pancreas/exocrine-pancreatic-insufficiency-epi/
3. https://www.medicinenet.com/exocrine_pancreatic_insufficiency_epi/article.htm