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Managing EPI And Chronic Pancreatitis?

Updated on November 26, 2011
The Pancreas as viewed in the illustration here, is siutuated below the Stomach area and plays an important role in the digestion of fats and detoxification overall.
The Pancreas as viewed in the illustration here, is siutuated below the Stomach area and plays an important role in the digestion of fats and detoxification overall. | Source
Pancreaze is one medication used to treat fat disorder diseases, such as pancreatic cancers and cystic fibrosis for example.
Pancreaze is one medication used to treat fat disorder diseases, such as pancreatic cancers and cystic fibrosis for example. | Source

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, sometimes also known as (EPI), sounds just like any other long and complicated medical word; that a healthcare professional may use on occasion. However to those who may suffer from this disease, or have family members that are plagued from its affects. You will soon realize without a doubt, managing and treating this gastrointestinal related disorder, can be quite a challenge. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency affects not only adults, but children as well can be afflicted with EPI. EPI is basically a disorder of the pancreatic organ or pancreas which lies behind and below our abdominal cavity, or in layman's terms, below our stomachs.

Patients who suffer from symptoms associated with EPI, often have problems digesting fats. So eating fatty meals are not recommended for someone with EPI. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is also a direct result of other conditions; besides not being able to digest food normally, because of a lack of these digestive enzymes. Cystic Fibrosis, Pancreatic Cancer's and chronic pancreatitis which will also be touched upon within this article; are all disease processes that make it difficult to digest fats and similar substances. The continual breakdown of pancreatic cells is the main cause for the loss of digestive enzymes within the pancreas. (SDS)-referred to as Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome is in addition, often found to be associated with (EPI). SDS, is a rare autosomal recessive disorder and can be characterized by the following. A predisposition of leukemia, skeletal abnormalaties and bone marrow disorder.

Patients who suffer from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes respectively, also are often found to have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or EPI. Usually treatment for EPI by a healtcare practitioner will not be initiated until some more obvious symptoms appear. A few of these associated symptoms could be, flatulence, Abdominal pain, or even bulky, greasy and fatty stools. Bulky and fatty stools are also referred to as Steatorrhea. EPI is often found to be present in dogs, besides being prevalent in humans. Chronic pancreatitis on the other hand, as you will soon learn, is a similar condition to EPI, but is not so common in the canine population, but is seen in felines or cats, as well as humans.

Genetics play a role moreso than even exocrine pancreatic insufficiency alone; in contributing to the development of chronic pancreatitis, or CP. Chronic Pancreatitis usually begins between the ages of 30 to 40 years of age and tends to be found in men moreso than women. Some common causes of chronic pancreatitis can be caused Hypertriglyceridema-(a high level of triglycerides or fats in the blood). Autoimmune disorders where the body ends up attacking its own immune system, can also be a factor in the development of CP. A few of the following medications in addition can cause problems for chronic pancreatitic sufferers. Some of those medicines are: (corticosteroids, thiazide diuretics, estrogens and azathiprine).

The following symptoms are also prevalent in CP and may be very similar to exocrine pancreatitic insufficiency. Abdominal pain, particularly in the upper abdomen is a prevalent symptom, along with occasional pain experienced in the back. abdominal pain may get worse upon eating or with the consumption of alcohol, which in turn can produce greasy, gray stools. Nausea, vomiting, fatty and greasy stools as previously mentioned and chronic weight loss is often seen in CP. Testing for Chronic Pancreatitis and Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency related disorders include, but are not limited to-Serum Trysinogen and serum lipase. These test are both utilized when automimmune related CP is suspected. Besides these individual tests, Serum amylase or Fecal fat tests may be also ordered by your healtcare practitioner to make a further diagnosis.

And on occasion abdominal ultrasounds, or even a abdominal Cat Scan may be needed to detect and confirm changes in the ducts of the pancreas and also to rule out any calcium deposits or inflammation. If your Oncologist and other healthcare provider finds his or her patient is suffering from conditions, associated with either Chronic Pancreatitis; or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency requires inhospital care. Than Intravenous or IV fluids may be required to be given to a patient who has rapid weight loss issues along with chronic pain. And if there is pain present along with the weight loss, than while in the hospital your doctor may prescribe pain medications to help alleviate the pain. When the indiviual is feeling better, an oral diet is than, usually started to ween them off of their previous liquid diets.

The most popular prescription products however, that are usually first choice for physicians treating patients with Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and Chronic Pancreatitis are Panreatic enzyme products. And the names of three of the most popular ones on the market, sound just as complicated as the disorders just mentioned. Pancreaze, Creon and Zenpep-are as previously mentioned pancreatic enzyme products used to help in the digestion of fats. Besides being used to treat EPI and CP, Pancreaze or Pancrealipase for example is also used to treat children and adults who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis. These pancreatic enzyme products are made from pork and other pig-related products, so if you are allergic to any porcine products, than it is recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider before taking any prescription, or even OTC pancreatic enzyme products for that matter to make sure the will be tolerated safely.

A few of the following steps below, can assist patients suffering from Pancreatic enzyme deficiency disorders; maintain a healthy weight while at the same time help to receive, the right amount of essential minerals and vitamins.

  • If you or a family member suffer from diabetes-take enough insulin, to control your blood sugar levels.
  • avoid drinking alcohol products and abstain from cigarette and smoking overall.
  • eat, small frequent meals, to help reduce digestive symptoms.
  • limit your total intake of caffeine, which includes but not limited to: Sodas, Coffees, Tea and Cocoa.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of clear fluids, especially water.
  • And most importantly make sure you eat a low-fat diet.

However the last point made may be somewhat difficult to abide by, especially during the summer months, while greasy hotdogs and hamburgers are being rolled and flipped on the barbecue. If nothing else is gained by my readers after digesting this article, than the most important thing to remember when faced with conditions, such as Chronic Pancreatitis and Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Is to not only take everything in stride, but also eat and drink everything in moderation as well. Best of health to all of you and healthy eating!


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