EPI Medical Term

EPI Medical Term – Overview

The human digestive system is responsible for a healthy life. If your digestive system is weak or faces difficulties, you will start experiencing health-related problems. The digestive system works with multiple organs, of which the pancreas is one of the essential organs.

The role of this small organ is to produce enzymes for the digestive system to break down food.

EPI is a serious condition. It occurs when your pancreas is not functioning well. EPI stands for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. In this condition, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough enzymes.

As a result, it disturbs the entire digestive system, as whatever you have will not be converted into nutrients due to enzyme shortage. This article will discuss everything you want to know about this condition- EPI, its symptoms, and treatments.

What Causes EPI?

EPI is typically caused by underlying conditions that damage the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, and surgeries that affect the pancreas. However, due to some events, your pancreas might get damaged and unable to produce enough enzymes to disturb the entire digestive system. As a result, you will start experiencing multiple health-related problems.

We have compiled a list of conditions or events that might explain the development of EPI.

EPI Medical Term

EPI Medical Term – What Causes EPI?

1. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a severe condition in which the functionality of this small organ is affected due to cell damage. There are two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. Let’s find out more information about both types.

2. Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is when a pancreatitis attack comes for a short period and then goes away. However, if not treated promptly, it might become chronic pancreatitis.

3. Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic Pancreatitis is a more serious condition where the original cells of your pancreas are damaged due to inflammation. This condition remains for a longer time.

In most cases, EPI is caused by chronic pancreatitis, as the pancreas cannot produce enzymes due to damaged cells.

4. Autoimmune Pancreatitis

Autoimmune pancreatitis is a specific type of pancreatitis caused by the immune system attacking the pancreas, leading directly to EPI, not as a result of a weakened immune system.

5. Surgical Activities

Studies have shown that people undergoing stomach, liver, pancreas, or intestine surgery will likely experience EPI. If a small portion of the pancreas is removed due to surgery or for any other reason by the surgeon, it will affect the production of the enzymes. Any other surgeries might disturb the functionality of this organ.

6. Diabetes

While diabetes can affect the pancreas, it is not a direct cause of EPI. EPI may occur in patients with diabetes due to underlying conditions that affect the pancreas, but diabetes itself does not directly cause EPI. It is due to hormonal imbalance that occurs due to bloodstream disturbance by diabetes disease. Hormonal imbalance affects not only the pancreas’s functionality but also other organs.

7. Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one more common reason behind developing EPI. Due to cancer cells, the original cells of the pancreas are replaced or damaged. Moreover, due to cancerous tumors, produced enzymes might not enter the digestive stream, which affects its functionality. Gradually, the person started developing EPI.

Besides this, other reasons, like celiac diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases, are common for developing EPI in humans.

What Are the Symptoms of EPI?

People with EPI condition face difficulties digesting food as their bodies cannot absorb fat and other nutrients. Moreover, fewer enzymes mean a slower or poor digestive system. As a result, it affects the entire digestive system, which makes people uncomfortable.

Here’s a list of symptoms seen in people with EPI.

  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Oily stools
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rashes on skin
  • Swelling in lower legs

You will become malnourished as your body will not get enough nutrients due to an imbalanced digestive system. As a result, you will start feeling weak or face problems while walking, etc. Sometimes, your legs and hands will become numb for seconds.

How Is EPI Treated?

As noted above, EPI occurs when some events or conditions damage the cells in your pancreas. It requires ongoing management, which includes Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) and dietary adjustments. Some underlying causes of EPI may be treated or managed with surgery or other medications, affecting the course of EPI. However, you can manage its condition by offering enough nutrients to your body.

So, let’s find out how EPI is treated or managed!

1. Improved Diet

EPI is a condition in which the digestive system cannot absorb fat and other nutrients. Discuss your condition with your dietician, who will recommend the best diet to manage this condition.


PERT stands for Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy. It is a medication that provides enzymes your pancreas cannot produce due to EPI.

PERT is recommended to take with your meals to break down the food into nutrients so the body can get the essential nutrients from it. This way, one can manage the EPI condition.

3. Vitamins

EPI disturbs your body’s nutritional requirements. EPI doesn’t allow your body to absorb vitamins and other nutrients from food. In addition to meals, supplements for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are often necessary because EPI affects the body’s ability to absorb these vitamins from food.

What Types of Food Should You Avoid

People with EPI need to focus on their diet. Ensure you avoid the listed drinks and foods if you want to live a healthy life while having the EPI condition. If you don’t follow a proper diet, you will start experiencing unwanted health conditions.

  • Sodas with sugar and salt
  • Alcohol
  • Liver
  • Red meat
  • Fast foods such as french fries, hamburgers, etc.
  • Processed foods such as potato chips, etc.
  • Cheese, butter, margarine
  • Cakes and pastries
  • Mayonaise

What Types of Foods Are Good?

Dietary recommendations for individuals with EPI aim to support overall nutritional needs and manage symptoms. The focus is on a well-balanced diet that considers the unique needs of someone with EPI rather than specific foods that make the liver and pancreas function normally.

The Bottom Line:

While EPI itself requires ongoing management, addressing the underlying cause can improve the condition and, in some cases, reduce the need for enzyme replacement therapy. However, you can manage the effects of this condition by maintaining a diet.

Consult your dietitian for the best advice on what foods are good for you and what foods to avoid.

The above article includes all the required information about EPI conditions in humans; read it and follow the advice to manage or prevent EPI conditions.

See Also

Diabetes Mellitus Clinical Trials

Best Medical Terminology Books

Most Popular FDA Approved Weight Loss Medications

Current Version
November 5, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover

Follow us