An EPI patient standing with her arms folded
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Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) can vary from person to person, but if you have one, some, or all of the following symptoms of a pancreatic disorder, talk to your doctor right away. While steatorrhea is a sign of more serious EPI, not everyone with EPI experiences this symptom. Only a healthcare provider can diagnose if your symptoms are due to EPI or another pancreatic disorder.


A symptom of fat malabsorption, diarrhea is commonly experienced by people with EPI.

Gas and bloating

People with EPI cannot properly digest the food they eat, which can result in uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating.

Stomach pain

Fat maldigestion due to EPI can lead to gas, bloating, and stomach pain.

Unexplained weight loss

EPI affects protein and carbohydrate digestion, but the greatest impact comes from fat maldigestion, which is the primary cause of weight loss in people with EPI. While it may not seem serious, it’s important to tell your doctor if you’re losing weight and don’t know why. This can be a sign of EPI or another medical condition.

Foul-smelling, oily stools (steatorrhea)

Steatorrhea is a type of bowel movement that is oily, floats, smells really bad, and is difficult to flush. People with EPI are not able to absorb all the fat that they eat, so undigested fat is excreted, resulting in stools that look oily or greasy. Not all people experience this symptom.

Don’t wait until you see the signs of steatorrhea (oil droplets floating in the toilet bowl or stools that float or stick to the sides of the bowl and are hard to flush) to speak up. Talk to your doctor if you experience one, some, or all the signs and symptoms listed on this page. They may be signs of EPI.

For more information on symptoms of EPI, watch the video below.

Recognizing the Symptoms of EPI

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Only your doctor can tell if your symptoms are due to EPI or another condition. Use our EPI Symptom Checker to help you identify specific symptoms, and share the results with your doctor at your next visit.

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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. Durie P, Baillargeon J-D, Bouchard S, Donnellan F, Zepeda-Gomez S, Teshima C. Diagnosis and management of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) in primary care: consensus guidance of a Canadian expert panel. Curr Med Res Opin. 2018;34(1):25-33. 3. Domínguez-Muñoz JE. Pancreatic enzyme therapy for pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2007;9(2):116-122.