An EPI patient with glasses

It just seems like “stomach issues”

Many people experiencing the symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) believe they are simply having “stomach issues.” This belief may cause them to delay talking to their doctor about their experiences and finding a treatment that may work for them. EPI symptoms can be confused with those of other common digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. Symptoms also vary from one person to another, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor and be as specific as possible.

Don’t be embarrassed—your doctor has heard it all

Talking to your doctor about sensitive subjects can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, but, as an example, saying things like “I have nasty gas” (no matter how silly or disgusting you think it sounds) is the only way for your doctor to understand what’s truly going on. The following are some examples that may describe your situation:

  • I’m running out of excuses to avoid eating in public.
  • Having diarrhea has become the norm for me.
  • I’ve had times where I didn’t think I was going to make it to the bathroom.

If you’ve ever said or thought something similar, it might be time to talk to your doctor about your “stomach issues,” because it could really be EPI. Not sure how to start the conversation? Watch this video to see how other people with EPI approached the topic.

Talking to your doctor

You may feel embarrassed to talk about your symptoms, but being open and honest with your doctor is key to finding a treatment that works for you. This video is full of tips that may help you have a more productive conversation with your doctor or gastroenterologist.

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Get specific about EPI symptoms

Your primary care doctor may diagnose you with EPI, or they may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in treating GI conditions like EPI. That’s why it’s important to keep all members of your healthcare provider team updated about your symptoms, and to be open and honest about what you’re experiencing. To find a provider near you with EPI experience, locate a doctor now.

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Share the details of your symptoms with:

  • Your primary care doctor
  • Your nurses
  • Your gastroenterologist
  • Your nutritionist

Use our telemedicine tips to prepare for a more productive conversation with your doctor

Your next appointment may be via your computer or smartphone instead of in person. To ensure you make the most of your upcoming visit with clear and focused communication, review our telemedicine tips at the link below before your appointment. The more prepared you are, the better your conversation will be.

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Reference sources:

1. Alkaade S, Vareedayah AA. A primer on exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, fat malabsorption, and fatty acid abnormalities. Am J Manag Care. 2017;23(12)(suppl):S203-S209. 2. Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Jameson JL, Loscalzo J, eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012. 3. Symptoms of celiac disease. Celiac Disease Foundation website. Accessed March 3, 2021. 4. What is a gastroenterologist? American College of Gastroenterology website. Accessed January 13, 2021.