EPI Disease: A Rare Illness that Affects the Digestive Tract

EPI Disease: A Rare Illness that Affects the Digestive Tract

Brittni Devlin |Jan 27, 2021

What is Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency?

Eating is a vital activity for all living things, including humans. Everything we ingest breaks down into important nutrients and energy to keep us active and healthy. Unfortunately, behaviors as instinctual as eating do not come easy to everyone. So, what is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency? Let's find out.

There are some individuals that suffer from conditions that interfere with their ability to properly digest food. While these diseases are rather rare, there are individuals who have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).

What is EPI?

EPI is a medical condition that causes digestive problems. EPI disrupts an individual’s natural ability to obtain nutrition from the food they eat. While the disease is not uncommon in dogs and cats, it is rather rare in humans.

What Causes Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency?

EPI is the result of pancreas malfunction. The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing chemicals, called enzymes, which are responsible for helping the body break down food. If your body produces too little of these chemicals, it cannot properly extract nutrients from the food you eat.

There are several different ways in which your pancreas can incur damage that results in EPI. Some more common explanations include the following:

  • Chronic pancreatitis: When those enzymes start activating while they are still inside the pancreas, it can cause inflammation. When this happens too often, your pancreas is vulnerable to permanent damage. Some risk factors for chronic pancreatitis include having an immune system disorder or being a heavy drinker.
  • Surgery: Some individuals experience EPI following surgical procedures on their pancreas, stomach, or intestines.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: This condition forces the body to create large amounts of sticky mucus. Sometimes, this unusually thick substance can trap the enzymes in the pancreas, resulting in the enzymes activating inside of the pancreas.
  • Schwachman-diamond syndrome: Those who suffer from Schwachman-diamond syndrome may not have the appropriate cells in their pancreas. Missing these vital cells means your pancreas simply can’t produce the enzymes at all.
  • Diseases of the digestive system: Other diseases that may cause EPI are those which directly impact the digestive system. Although not everyone suffering from celiac disease or Crohn’s disease has EPI, these diseases may lead to EPI.

What are the Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency?

Initially, individuals suffering from EPI may not notice anything out of the ordinary. It is only when the pancreas damage advances to a certain level that individuals may start exhibiting symptoms. These may be a direct result of pancreas damage or indirect effects of the inability to absorb certain vitamins.

Symptoms may include (but are not limited to):

  • Stomach pain
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Constant gas
  • Feeling full
  • Bone pain
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding disorders

Treatment for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

A major component of EPI treatment includes lifestyle changes. Everyone can stand to benefit from a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle. Avoiding substances, like alcohol, is a must. Alcohol adds extra stress on your body and can further damage the pancreas.

Changes in eating behavior are also recommended. Try to replace the “tradition” three large meals with six smaller ones. Those with EPI may struggle with having large meals.

Another main treatment includes pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT). The goal of PERT is to replenish missing enzymes that your own pancreas no longer makes. These products are ingested orally, often in combination with an antacid, to prevent your stomach acid from breaking them down too early. Additional vitamins are also recommended to supplement vitamin deficiencies.

The FDA approved six prescription drugs for PERT treatment: Creon, Pancreaze, Pertzye, Ultresa, Viokace, and Zenpep.

Doctors may prescribe additional medications to treat pain. Often, over-the-counter pain killers are effective.

When to See a Doctor

Try to remember that exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is a very rare disease and troubling symptoms are likely due to another underlying condition. There are several tests that are conducted to diagnose an individual with EPI:

  • Blood tests are performed to measure the levels of vitamins and enzymes in your body. These tests can also test for other diseases that put you at risk for EPI.
  • Fecal tests are used to calculate levels of fat in bowel movements as well as the concentration of enzymes your pancreas is producing.
  • Imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRIs, and endoscopic ultrasounds, may be performed to determine whether or not the pancreas is inflamed.

If diagnosed, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan which works best for you.

It’s important that you discuss any worry symptoms with your primary care physician. Only they can offer the expert observation and testing needed to receive a concrete diagnosis.

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Planning on Getting Botox? Here’s What to Know

Staff Writer | January 27, 2021

Before the Needle Although many people have heard about Botox, few people know what it actually is. So, what are Botox injections? Many people would be surprised to learn that it actually is a drug derived from a neurotoxin created by a specific bacterium, the Clostridium botulinum. This is the same toxin that causes botulism, a life-threatening form of food poisoning. When ingested in its natural form, Botox can cause paralysis that spreads through the body until it eventually works its way to the breathing muscles, causing respiratory failure. This is why it is important to educate yourself before considering Botox injections. Why Do People Get Botox? Although this is a toxin, it is safe to use in small doses for medical use. Doctors often use the substance cosmetically. It is probably best known as an anti-wrinkle agent used to treat fine lines and signs of aging. Most commonly, it is used to treat wrinkles in the neck or face. Some people also get Botox injections to minimize their forehead lines. [youmaylike] In addition to smoothing skin to give it a more youthful appearance, it serves other medical purposes. Some patients use it to treat severe underarm sweating, migraines, uncontrollable blinking, overactive bladder and strabismus (misaligned eyes). How Does Botox Work? Botox causes paralysis. While this can be fatal in large, targeted doses, it is the property that helps with treatment. It acts locally, upon the injection site where it will weaken or paralyze targeted muscles. This is done as the neurotoxin attaches to nerve ending and blocks impulses from coming through. Instead of contracting as normal, the injected tissues will remain relatively frozen. Reducing the pulling of the skin is what makes the skin look more youthful. This signal-blocking property is also assisted with the other medical applications of Botox. It is important to realize that these are not the same as a filler. How Long Does Botox Last? The effects of Botox do not last forever. After a while, the signals will begin to pass through again. Procedures are expected to have a visual effect that lasts three to six months. Botox will not lose its effect overnight. Rather, you will experience a gradual decline in results as the muscles slowly regain their movement. The effects of your first session will wear off faster than the later sessions. Your first session is expected to last around three months where the later sessions will gradually last up to six months. Is Botox Safe? Under controlled medical environments, Botox injection procedures are considered low-risk. Most procedures are carried out safely and effectively with little side effects. The side effects one does experience are normally what is expected from any sort of injection procedure. This would be some temporary redness, bleeding or bruising at the injection site. In rare cases, one may experience a headache in the first two days after the procedure or temporary drooping. With this being said, there are certain situations where you should avoid getting Botox injections. You should not undergo treatments if you: Are 65 years of age or older, or under 18 years old. Have breathing problems. Have bleeding problems. Are allergic to or have sensitivities to Botox products. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications or supplements you are currently taking as there may be some interactions that could be dangerous. If you immediately experience signs of an allergic reaction upon the treatment, seek medical help immediately. To reduce any of the potential complications, it is important that you thoroughly research the performing physician. You need to make sure you are going to someone who knows what they are doing and has an adequate environment to perform hygienically and legally. It is not worth the risk to seek other methods. Does Botox Hurt? Botox procedures use very tiny needles. While injections are associated with some pain, the size of the needles keeps this pain at a minimum. Botox injections are generally preceded by some sort of anesthetic treatment to numb the pain. This is often done with a topical anesthetic cream or a cold pack. Most people report minimal to no pain at all. The Cost of Botox The cost of Botox will vary greatly depending on the specifications of your procedure. Some facilities will charge you by the area covered, but more often they charge you per unit of Botox used. On average, you will pay about $20 per unit. As the average treatment is about 20 to 60 units on average, you will likely pay between $500 and $800. The number of units used in a session will vary greatly depending on the space that you want to be covered. The bigger the area, the more units you will need to pay to achieve results. When it comes to cosmetic procedures, insurance will likely not pay for any of the costs. You can talk with your insurance provider to find out if they offer financial compensation for non-cosmetic procedures.

The Top 10 Vitamins and Supplements for Women During Menopause

Danielle Kemp | January 27, 2021

Helping With This Natural Phase for Older Women Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life and marks the end of her reproductive years. While it brings significant hormonal changes, it doesn’t have to be a time of discomfort or distress. By incorporating specific vitamins and supplements into their daily routine, women can manage the uncomfortable symptoms that come with menopause. Read on as we discuss the 10 best vitamins and supplements that can support women during this transitional phase. 1. Calcium and Vitamin D During menopause, there is a natural decrease in estrogen levels. This can lead to bone loss and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for maintaining good bone health. Calcium supports the formation and maintenance of strong bones, while vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens and fortified foods. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure and fortified foods, but supplements may be necessary to meet the recommended daily intake. 2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health, especially during menopause. They have been shown to reduce inflammation, support heart health and improve mood. Additionally, they can alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and joint pain. Fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon and sardines, is an excellent source of omega-3s. Fish oil supplements are available that can help ensure optimal intake of these fatty acids. 3. B Vitamins B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate) and B12, are crucial in maintaining energy levels and supporting emotional well-being. They can help combat fatigue, mood swings and memory lapses commonly experienced during menopause. Foods rich in B vitamins include whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, eggs and fortified cereals. Taking a B-complex supplement is also a good way of ensuring adequate intake. 4. Magnesium Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports many biochemical reactions in the body. During menopause, magnesium can alleviate mood swings, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. It has also been shown to aid in maintaining bone density and muscle function. Dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and leafy greens. Women who are concerned about a lack of magnesium in their diet can also take supplements to ensure optimal intake. 5. Black Cohosh This herbal supplement has been traditionally used to manage menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances. It is believed to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. While research results are mixed, many women find relief while taking black cohosh. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplement, as it may interact with certain medications or have side effects. [youmaylike] 6. Soy Isoflavones These plant compounds have a similar structure to estrogen. They are known as phytoestrogens and can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Products such as tofu, soy milk and tempeh are rich sources of isoflavones, but there are also supplements available. 7. Vitamin E Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help alleviate menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It works by reducing oxidative stress in the body. Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, spinach and broccoli. There are also supplements available if you are concerned about achieving adequate intake. 8. Probiotics Menopause can sometimes disrupt the balance of gut flora, leading to digestive issues and a weakened immune system. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support digestive health and immune function. They help to alleviate bloating, gas and constipation and are available in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. 9. Evening Primrose Oil Evening primrose oil is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. These seeds are rich in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid, and have been found to reduce hot flashes, improve skin elasticity and relieve breast pain associated with menopause. Evening primrose oil is available in capsule form and should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 10. Ginseng Ginseng, particularly the Panax ginseng variety, has been used in traditional medicine to alleviate menopausal symptoms. It may help reduce fatigue, improve cognitive function and enhance overall well-being. It is available as a supplement and should be used with caution as it can interact with certain medications and cause side effects in some individuals. Final Notes It's important to note that while vitamins and supplements can be beneficial during menopause, they should not replace a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. It's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Incorporating essential vitamins and supplements into their daily routines can provide much-needed support for women during menopause. By understanding their unique needs and consulting with healthcare professionals, women can navigate this transformative stage with greater comfort and vitality.

Is An Epsom Salt Bath Good for UTIs?

Pamela Bandelaria | January 27, 2021

A Soak Could Help You Find Some Relief Urinary tract infections are one of the most common outpatient consultations in the United States. They are one of the most common causes of fever in the young and elderly and can cause urinary incontinence in women. Yearly, around 250,000 cases of kidney infections or pyelonephritis occur among women in the United States. Costs for the diagnosis and management of urinary tract infections in the United States can reach up to a total of $2-3 billion dollars a year. It might seem like a simple infection, but it can be really costly when you think of it from that scale. It is an essential infection to treat because it can lead to serious complications such as sepsis and renal damage if left untreated. That is why a lot of other remedies are being tested to see if they can alleviate symptoms of urinary tract infections. This article will discuss how Epsom salt baths are good for UTIs, what benefits Epsom salt baths have, and how to prepare an Epsom salt bath. What are Urinary Tract Infections? What are the Symptoms? Urinary tract infections are infections of the parts that serve as the passageway of the urine out of our bodies; this includes the kidney, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Urine is a sterile substance that passes out of our bodies; therefore, the introduction of bacteria can lead to a bladder infection, inflammation, and pus formation that can lead to various symptoms. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include pain and burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, blood in the urine, and abdominal pain. What are Epsom Salts? What Do They Do? Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is a white, crystalline water-soluble chemical compound that has been used for centuries to treat various illnesses. Epsom salts are commonly used to relieve sore muscles, stiff joints, itching, skin irritation, and sunburn and are used as relief for headaches or foot pain. Its uses in the human body are varied, and it has been found to provide relief for various ailments, which include urinary tract infections. How is an Epsom Salt Bath Good for UTIs? What Benefits do Epsom Salt Baths Have? Epsom salts provide several benefits for treating urinary tract infections. The primary benefit of using Epsom salt baths for bladder infections or urinary tract infections is to relieve pain. Epsom salt baths can help relieve pain and discomfort associated with UTIs. UTIs present with a burning sensation, pain while urinating, and cloudy urine. The warm, calming nature of Epsom salt baths has been shown to help relieve this. [youmaylike] If you soak in an Epsom salt bath, it can be helpful to reduce inflammation as well. Because they are rich in magnesium, they can help cleanse the urinary tract and aid in the healing process. The increased concentration of magnesium sulfate is believed to help change the environment in the urinary tract, which can lead to conditions unfavorable for bacteria to grow. It can help prevent bacteria from growing or multiplying when you soak in an Epsom salt bath and has a disinfectant property. Epsom salt baths can also improve the circulation of blood in the body. It can cause dilation of the blood vessels leading to improved blood flow, which also promotes the passage of cells that help in the body’s immunity. Epsom salt baths provide an overall relaxing and calming experience that can leave you feeling detoxified as well. Are Epsom Salt Baths the Answer to UTIs? Although Epsom salt baths may relieve urinary tract infection symptoms, there is not enough evidence to recommend using Epsom salts over established treatments like antibiotics. Epsom salt baths are currently home remedies that can be adjuncts to treatment but cannot be used to replace the treatment of urinary tract infections with antibiotic medications. In order to treat the infection, you should still take an antibiotic regimen prescribed by your physician. Are Epsom Salt Baths Risk-Free? Do Epsom Salt Baths Have Any Side Effects? Generally, Epsom salt baths are safe and don’t have a lot of serious complications. However, you still need to make sure that Epsom salt baths are safe for you. The most common side effects of Epsom salt baths include allergic reactions. So if you have an allergy to Epsom salt, it is better that you avoid this. It can also aggravate pain or discomfort if you have an open wound or breaks or scratches in the skin. If you have these, stay away from Epsom salt baths to avoid further complications. How Do You Prepare an Epsom Salt Bath? The general way to prepare an Epsom salt bath is to dissolve Epsom salt in warm water. Epsom salt is easy to find and can easily be bought in health and grocery stores. Recommendations include dissolving 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt in a gallon of warm water to create a water-soak bath. It is important not to put too much to avoid irritation and drying of the skin. Let the Epsom salt dissolve in the water, which can take about a few minutes. If you have a bathtub, you can prepare it to submerge and soak in it. However, this can be done as you shower as well. When you have a bladder infection or a urinary tract infection, you can do a water soak for 15-20 minutes to help relieve symptoms. Rinse after every water soak. This can be done daily or on an average of 2-3 times per week. Doing this soak gives ample time in providing relief until the antibiotics start doing their work and control further growth and multiplication of bacteria, completely eliminating symptoms such as pain. If you think you have a urinary tract infection, consult your physician for an evaluation. Further, you should seek medical attention if you are experiencing any serious side effects from using Epsom salt baths. There are no studies that show that using an Epsom salt bath for UTIs will prevent or cure a urinary tract infection, so it is still important to go to the doctor for proper management. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection.