WHAT ARE THE
SYMPTOMS OF EPI?
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.
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
Recognizing the Symptoms of EPI
ANDY: I was having very serious lower GI problems. And I used that term, uh, to avoid being graphic.
RHONDA: I had some pretty funky symptoms.
MEREDITH: I was experiencing a lot of discomfort after eating meals, um, particularly fatty foods.
MEL: You have problems, such as greasy stool, bloating, gas, and weight loss.
RHONDA: Bloating and cramps and diarrhea and, you know, oily stools, and stuff like that.
DEBRA: I couldn’t eat.
ANDY: I could not gain weight.
JOHN: I couldn’t go out to dinner anymore. I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t trust myself.
RHONDA: And I knew that was not normal.
When I approached my doctor to tell him about my symptoms, um, it was kind of embarrassing at first.
MEREDITH: Nobody really likes to talk about diarrhea or gas or gastrointestinal bloating.
RHONDA: But if you come in with even one symptom you need to go and take it serious and tell your doctor.
ANDY: And be as explicit as you can.
DEBRA: No matter how insignificant you think they are.
MEREDITH: Talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
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