It is possible to treat exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) successfully. However, without treatment, EPI can cause serious complications and even death.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) occurs when the pancreas fails to make enough enzymes needed to digest food.
People with EPI have an increased risk of cardiovascular events and malnutrition. Those with EPI may also have other conditions, such as chronic pancreatitis, that can increase the risk of death.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) is available to treat EPI and can improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.
Read on to learn more about the possible complications of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and how treatments can help.
People can manage and treat EPI successfully, and those living with the condition can have a good quality of life. However, without treatment, EPI can lead to serious complications and, in some cases, it can be
People living with EPI are also at heightened risk for malnutrition. A
To add to the complexity, many people with EPI also have other underlying conditions that may make malnutrition particularly dangerous.
Chronic pancreatitis is a common cause of EPI. People with chronic pancreatitis and malnutrition have higher rates of mortality.
Pancreatic cancer is another cause of EPI. In people with this cancer, malnutrition can cause lower rates of survival.
EPI does not cause pancreatic cancer, but people with pancreatic cancer may also have EPI.
Pancreatic cancer can also cause EPI. This may be due to the tumor blocking the pancreatic duct or as a result of treatment that removes all or part of the pancreas.
Both pancreatic cancer and EPI have a
Several other factors can cause EPI, and not everyone with EPI will have or develop cancer.
With proper treatment, it is possible for a person living with EPI to have a good quality of life. Treatment for EPI involves PERT to replace the enzymes the pancreas no longer produces.
Without treatment, complications can occur. It can also be fatal.
People living with EPI may also have conditions that can affect life expectancy. This includes chronic pancreatitis.
Studies have shown people assigned male at birth with chronic pancreatitis have a mortality rate 4.3 times higher than the general population, and people assigned female at birth have a 4.5 times higher mortality rate.
Those living with cystic fibrosis may also experience EPI, and cystic fibrosis can affect life expectancy. The life expectancy for a person with cystic fibrosis is lower than the general population.
Numerous factors contribute to a person’s life expectancy.
- being physically inactive
- having obesity
- drinking alcohol
Many of these risk factors
Chronic pancreatitis is a common cause of EPI. Heavy alcohol use and smoking are both associated with chronic pancreatitis and may shorten life expectancy.
Many of the underlying conditions associated with EPI can shorten life expectancy. These include:
- pancreatic cancer
- cystic fibrosis
- chronic pancreatitis
A person’s doctor can provide them with more accurate information about their outlook based on their own individual circumstances.
Although there is no cure for EPI, medical treatments and lifestyle changes
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy
The main treatment for EPI is pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). It involves taking medication that contains pancreatic enzymes.
A person will typically take PERT with food to help with digestion in the small intestine. A person’s doctor can advise on what taking PERT involves.
A doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help a person manage EPI. These might include:
- avoiding alcohol consumption
- avoiding smoking
- working with a dietitian to make dietary changes
Dietary changes a dietitian may recommend
Chronic pancreatitis is the most common cause of EPI and can cause significant damage to the pancreas. Pancreatic insufficiency occurs when more than
This damage is not repairable, and those with chronic pancreatitis and EPI will require ongoing treatment.
People with cystic fibrosis can have an inflamed pancreas from birth. EPI can occur in more than 80% of people with cystic fibrosis, beginning early in life.
Cystic fibrosis has no cure, and those with CF and EPI will require ongoing treatment.
It is essential to begin treating EPI as soon as a person receives a diagnosis. Without treatment, EPI can cause several potentially serious complications. These
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- unintended weight loss
- low bone mass
- weakened immune system
- growth problems in children
Those who have EPI and do not receive treatment may also be at risk of death.
It is possible to treat exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), and those with the condition can have a good quality of life. However, without treatment, EPI can cause serious complications and even death.
Some people with EPI may have other underlying conditions that may shorten life expectancy. These include cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer.
Currently, the only treatment for EPI is PERT. This will not cure EPI but can help people effectively manage the condition.