So you have EPI. Now what?
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a manageable condition. If you have been diagnosed with EPI, you should work with your doctor to determine a treatment plan. This may include a prescription for a pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) option, following a nutrient-rich diet, and taking vitamin supplements. It’s also important to consult with a nutritionist to make sure all your dietary needs are being met.
For an overview of managing EPI, watch the video below.
Moving Forward With EPI Treatment
Moving Forward With EPI Treatment
MEREDITH: The best advice I received from my doctor was to be upfront and honest with him about my symptoms. The second-best piece of advice I received from him was to be very mindful of my medication and to take it correctly.
Without enzymes, the body is unable to process the food that you consume. If I eat a hot dog or something fatty and don’t take enzymes, I will become symptomatic. My body was reminding me why I needed to be on the pancreatic enzymes.
It was tricky at first to remember to take the enzymes with every meal. It’s now been several years since my diagnosis, and it’s just second nature to take the pancreatic enzymes.
ANDY: At every meal, I lay the medication on the table so I know exactly how many tablets I will take with that meal.
Preparation for a doc is crucial. What that means is describing a dosage, describing your stools, describing your general feel, describing the level of activity that you have.
MEREDITH: If you don’t know exactly what is triggering your symptoms, it can be very helpful to write them down. I found it was helpful to keep a food diary to describe to him what my body has been experiencing.
I want to help people who have been newly diagnosed with EPI to understand the importance of maintaining open lines of communication with their physicians, paying attention to what their body’s telling them, and taking the pancreatic enzymes in the way that will most benefit them.
ANDY: Don’t hold back. Don’t give up. Talk to your doctor and be as explicit as you can.
How does pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) work?
If you have EPI, your doctor may prescribe a PERT for you, because PERTs are the standard of care for EPI treatment. So it’s important to understand how it works. PERT is a medicine that replaces the digestive enzymes your pancreas normally produces in order to break down essential nutrients.
(breaks down fats)
(breaks down proteins)
(breaks down carbohydrates)
When to take a PERT
When taken as directed, with every meal and snack, a PERT helps break down the nutrients in food.
While proper diet and lifestyle can help, it’s important to continue taking a PERT with every meal & snack in order to address EPI symptoms, even if they appear to improve. Your doctor will determine the dose that is right for you.
Is EPI manageable?
Combining a PERT with a well-balanced diet and proper nutrition can help you manage the symptoms of EPI.
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