WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF EPI?
Chronic pancreatitis is the main cause of EPI in adults. As many as 8 in 10 adults with this disorder develop EPI. Pancreatitis causes inflammation and swelling of the pancreas. Over time, chronic inflammation can damage the pancreatic cells that make digestive enzymes.
EPI is a rare but serious digestive problem. Learn more about what causes it, how to spot the symptoms, and ways you can treat it. EPI is characterized by an inability of the pancreas to produce key digestive enzymes. Most of us take digestion for granted.
The treatment for EPI consists of improving diet, decreasing alcohol and smoking, and a medication called PERT, which stands for pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy. PERT is taken by mouth to provide additional digestive enzymes during a meal.
If left untreated, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency can lead to feeling malnourished, fatigued and weak. This is due to the poor absorption of vitamins and nutrients. Eventually, it can lead to thinning bones (osteoporosis) or anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells).
People with IBS will see mucus in their stool, says Dr. Anderson, rather than fat. (Fatty stools, or steatorrhea, are a telltale sign of EPI.) Like those of EPI, IBS symptoms tend to occur after eating, but IBS may also be triggered by stress, infection, and other factors.
While there's no cure for EPI, your doctor will work with you to find treatments that can ease your symptoms, treat any underlying conditions, and, ultimately, improve your quality of life.
To better understand EPI, it helps to know what the pancreas does. In people with EPI, it's the exocrine function of the pancreas that is affected. Your body doesn't produce or supply enough of these pancreatic enzymes needed to break down the food you eat.
Is EPI fatal? The biggest risk of EPI is malnutrition. If you don't have the right type and numbers of enzymes, you can't get the nutrients from your food. Symptoms of EPI, including pain, can also reduce appetite, making your risk of malnutrition worse.
Few people with EPI are likely to gain too much weight, even after they find a combination of foods they can tolerate. Should you gain more weight than you need to, though, focus on portion control, Lupu says. Portion sizes are good to keep in mind if you're trying to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt or dairy-free alternatives such as almond, soy, and rice milk. Most types of cheese are high in fat, though lower-fat options like cottage cheese may not worsen your symptoms and can be a good source of protein.
An egg offers 6 g of protein and 5 g of fat, according to the USDA. People with EPI are at risk for malnutrition, because their digestion isn't working well, she adds, so it's essential to find healthy sources of protein and fat that are easy to prepare and eat.
Probiotics may be an especially good idea if you've been taking antibiotics, as they may help replenish the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract that the antibiotics may have killed off along with the harmful bacteria that caused the infection.
Vitamin D seems to play a role in pancreatic disease, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as pancreatic cancer. Vitamin D's immune-modulatory action suggests that it could help prevent type 1 diabetes.
Vitamin D supplementation is thus not usually done in pancreatitis since it can make it worse. With the lessening of inflammation because you stopped the D2, it's possible the cysts decreased in size and the ducts were able to go back toward normal, relieving inflammation in your case of IPMN.
These five strategies can help ease EPI symptoms for many people.
Jan 2, 2020
How Is EPI Treated? Apart from a healthy diet, the main treatment for EPI is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). You take prescription pills that replace the enzymes your pancreas isn't making. These enzymes break down your food so you can more easily digest and absorb it.
To get your pancreas healthy, focus on foods that are rich in protein, low in animal fats, and contain antioxidants. Try lean meats, beans and lentils, clear soups, and dairy alternatives (such as flax milk and almond milk). Your pancreas won't have to work as hard to process these.