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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Warning Signs in Your Stool

From the Show: Health Radio
Summary: If you have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), or think that you are experiencing symptoms, why is it important to "look before you flush?"
Air Date: 7/13/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Roshini Raj, MD
Dr RajDr. Roshini Raj is a board certified gastroenterologist and internist with a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. She is an attending physician at NYU Medical Center/Tisch Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Raj has a special interest in women's health and cancer screening and has published several research articles on colon cancer screening.

Dr. Raj is a Today Show contributor, the Good Day NY Medical Correspondent (Fox5) and the Medical Editor of Health Magazine. In August 2010, she released her first book, What the Yuck?! The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body. Dr. Raj has discussed a wide variety of health topics on a range of network and cable shows, including NBC's Today Show; ABC's The View, LIVE with Kelly and Michael, Good Morning America and World News Tonight; CNN's American Morning, Nancy Grace, and Larry King Live; The Discovery Health Channel; The Tyra Banks Show; The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors, among others.
  • Book Title: What the Yuck?: The Freaky and Fabulous Truth About Your Body
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Warning Signs in Your Stool
Poop isn't something you like discussing with anyone, not even your doctor.

But, if you're having bowel issues like pain, irregularity, or bleeding, it could be a sign of a major health issue.

Did you know one way of keeping track of your gastrointestinal (GI) health is as easy as peeking in the toilet before you flush?

Factors such as the size, shape, color and odor of your stool may be indicators of an underlying GI condition that should be discussed with your physician.

Everyone's digestive tract works differently, but ignoring persistent GI symptoms and warning signs in your stool could mean missing opportunities to detect potential health problems and/or underlying illnesses, such as a condition called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI).

EPI is the inability to properly digest foods due to the lack of digestive enzymes made by your pancreas.

What are the symptoms of EPI?

Typically, symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea, loose stools, trouble tolerating fatty foods, abdominal pain, and rashes.

What should you be looking for after you use the bathroom? Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is the ideal size and/or shape of stools?
  • When do you need to bring up your bowel movements with a doctor? Why is it important to share changes in bowel movements with a doctor?
  • What colors could be warning signs that something is wrong?
  • How can the smell indicate an underlying health problem?
  • What is EPI, and how can a person's stool indicate if they have it?

Roshini Raj, MD, discusses EPI, the symptoms associated with EPI, and what you should be looking for after a bowel movement.
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