EPI can occur in people with certain diseases and conditions that affect the pancreas. These diseases may be present when you’re born or develop over time.2,3
Underlying conditions or procedures which cause or may cause EPI include4-9:
Cystic fibrosis (CF)
CF is an inherited genetic disorder that mainly affects the lungs, digestive, and reproductive systems. People with CF produce thick, sticky mucus. When the pancreas is clogged with mucus, it can’t properly release the digestive enzymes needed to properly break down food.
Chronic pancreatitis (CP)
CP is a disease in which there is inflammation of the pancreas that lasts a long time. This is the most common cause of EPI in adults. CP may cause irreversible damage to the pancreas, including the cells that make digestive enzymes.
An operation to remove all or part of the pancreas, a pancreatectomy could disrupt pancreatic digestive enzyme production or delivery leading to EPI.
Obstruction of the pancreatic duct by tumors, destruction of the pancreas by tumor growth, and loss of pancreatic tissue from surgery—all potential results of pancreatic cancer—can lead to EPI.
Other underlying conditions or procedures in which EPI has been reported8-14
Acute pancreatitis (AP)
A condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed, AP can lead to temporary or permanent EPI.
By making your immune system attack your own pancreas, by damaging your pancreatic duct, and by scarring or inflaming your pancreas, Crohn’s disease can affect the ability of your pancreas to produce the enzymes you need to digest food. This can lead to EPI.
Though it is generally temporary and will likely improve with a gluten-free diet, untreated celiac disease can lead to EPI.
Type I diabetes
The inability to produce insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps control blood sugar, type I diabetes may also be an underlying condition that causes EPI.
Potentially affecting how pancreatic digestive enzymes are delivered to break down food, certain surgeries to the stomach or intestines can lead to EPI.
If you have one of these medical conditions, or have or have had one of these procedures—as well as one, some, or all of the symptoms of EPI—make sure you let your doctor know.Get Information About
How EPI Is Diagnosed