Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
is a condition in which your pancreas doesn’t produce enough digestive enzymes, which leads to an inability to digest food.
Normally, digestion begins when you chew your food, which then travels to your stomach, where it is pulverized and mixes with acid and enzymes (digestive juices).
Next, in the small intestine, the food mixes with digestive enzymes secreted by your pancreas and bile from your liver and gallbladder so your body can absorb the nutrients.
For people with EPI, which commonly results from diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, or diabetes, the pancreas can’t complete its role in this digestive process.
The only way to treat EPI is by taking pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), which contains a mix of enzymes that are normally secreted by the pancreas.
These enzymes include lipase (for digesting fats), protease (for digesting proteins), and amylase (for digesting carbs).
PERT allows people with EPI to digest their food and absorb nutrients