EPI 101: Stomach Troubles? It Could Be EPI

A doctor putting his hand on the back of a woman hunched over with stomach pain

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI, is the inability to properly digest food due to a lack of digestive enzymes made by the pancreas.

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a glandular organ in the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide, and a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine. These enzymes help to further break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in the chyme.

Pancreatic insufficiency is when the pancreas is not producing enough enzymes for proper digestion. Pancreatic insufficiency  typically occurs as a result of progressive pancreatic damage that may be caused by recurrent acute pancreatitis or by chronic pancreatitis due to a variety of conditions.”