Who gets EPI?

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is associated with certain diseases and conditions that affect the pancreas. Some of these diseases you are born with, like cystic fibrosis, while others may occur later in life, as is the case with chronic pancreatitis.

EPI may be associated with the following diseases and conditions. If you have one of these conditions and symptoms of EPI, take the EPI Symptom Checker and talk to your doctor.

Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is the most common cause of EPI in adults. CP is a chronic inflammatory disease of the pancreas. Over the course of years the inflammation can lead to irreversible damage to the pancreas, including cells that secrete pancreatic digestive enzymes and the calls that produce insulin leading to diabetes. There are different causes of CP, including alcohol abuse, genetic mutations, long history of smoking, and blockage of the pancreatic duct.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited genetic condition that leads to chronic disease that mainly affects the lungs and digestive and reproductive systems. In patients with CF, a thick, sticky mucus is produced in certain organs throughout the body, most commonly in the lungs and digestive system, including the pancreas. Many people living with CF are unable to properly digest food because they may also have EPI.
Pancreatectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of the pancreas. The surgery may involve removal of the entire pancreas (total pancreatectomy) or only a portion of the pancreas (partial pancreatectomy). A pancreatectomy can be performed as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, pancreatic tumors (pre-malignant), chronic pancreatitis, or when the pancreas has been severely damaged by injury. Removing part of or the entire pancreas may cause a loss of pancreatic digestive enzyme production, leading to EPI.
Cancer of the pancreas may cause damage to the pancreas, leading to EPI. Pancreatic cancer is sometimes treated with a pancreatectomy.
Certain surgeries on the stomach and intestines may affect how the enzymes that your pancreas makes digest the food you eat.
Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine part of the pancreas. People with diabetes have trouble producing or using insulin, a hormone that helps control blood sugar. Some people with diabetes (type I and type IIIC) may also have EPI. Talk to your doctor for additional information.
Other conditions such as autoimmune pancreatitis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease have been associated with EPI.
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