What is
Exocrine Pancreatic
Insufficiency [EPI]?

The pancreas produces enzymes to help with the digestion of food. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is a condition that occurs when the pancreas fails to provide the necessary amount of digestive enzymes. Due to a lack of these enzymes, people with EPI cannot properly digest the nutrients in food such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (maldigestion).

EPI is associated with uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, like bloating, gas, and oily diarrhea that floats and is difficult to flush. Additionally, if you have EPI, you may not be getting the necessary nutrition from the foods you eat.

The symptoms of EPI may be similar to other gastrointestinal disorders, like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which can make EPI a difficult condition to diagnose. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about all of the symptoms you may be experiencing. Use our EPI Symptom Checker to help you identify your symptoms and help you start a discussion with your doctor.

Sources: 1. Fieker A, Philpott J, Armand M. Enzyme replacement therapy for pancreatic insufficiency: present and future. Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2011:4:55-73. 2. Domínguez-Muñoz JE. Pancreatic enzyme therapy for pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2007;9(2):116-122. 3. Longo DL, Fauci AS, Kasper DL, et al, eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012. 4. Signs & symptoms of celiac disease. Celiac Support Association website. http://www.csaceliacs.info/symptoms_of_celiac_disease.jsp. Accessed August 11, 2016. 5. Bacterial overgrowth syndrome. The Merck Manual website. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/malabsorption_syndromes/bacterial_overgrowth_syndrome. Accessed August 11, 2016.