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5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor After an Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Diagnosis



PERT is the main treatment for EPI, but some people may also benefit from adjusting their diet or taking specific supplements to fill nutrient gaps. EPI treatment may also need to be tailored if your doctor believes another health issue triggered it in the first place, Dr. Othman says. 

3. Should I eat a special diet to feel better? 

Not necessarily, but Dr. Ahmad says “some patients may need a high-fat, high-protein diet if they are nutritionally depleted.” This is not recommended for everyone, but if your doctor determines you’re malnourished (which often presents as rapid weight loss), you may need to try this route.

That said, it’s important to be aware of consuming too much fat if you’re feeling crummy already, Dr. Hart says. “Fat is really the weakest link in the chain,” he explains. “If a patient’s intake of fat exceeds the ability of their pancreas to digest and absorb that fat, they will develop symptoms.” 

In general, Dr. Ahmad says she recommends that her patients follow a “moderate diet that includes all food groups.” It’s important to remember that a daily diet is highly individualized. Depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from eating smaller, frequent meals, adjusting your fiber intake, or generally avoiding foods that trigger your digestive distress.1 

If you’re already speaking with your doctor about your next steps, this is a great time to ask them about how you can get nutritional support, and whether they can help connect you to a clinical dietitian who can give you specialized advice.

4. Do I need to take supplements to stay healthy?

This depends on your personal situation, but your doctor may recommend that you take certain supplements to help you meet your nutritional needs. Because EPI can lead to malabsorption of many nutrients, your doctor should perform a blood test to see if you’re lacking appropriate levels of essential vitamins and minerals, Dr. Hart says. If they determine you have any insufficient levels of anything, you’ll likely need a supplement.


People with EPI tend to have a harder time absorbing fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, per the Cleveland Clinic. “Patients may also develop deficiencies of calcium, folic acid, thiamine, magnesium, and zinc and may require supplementations for these,” Dr. Ahmad notes. You should work closely with your doctor or a dietitian to determine what supplements you may need and at what dosage. They can also recommend a reputable brand for you to consider.

Taking your enzymes with every meal should also help your body properly absorb nutrients, Dr. Othman adds. 

5. Are there potential EPI complications I should be aware of? 

EPI can set the stage for complications, especially if the condition goes untreated.3 Complications are often linked to malnutrition, which can up your risk for hair loss, persistent fatigue, memory and concentration issues, muscle loss, osteoporosis, and mental health conditions like depression, among other side effects, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Source: Self

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