The pancreas, although a small organ in size but plays a huge role in food digestion and regulation of blood sugar. The pancreas is divided into two sections based on its function.
- Exocrine pancreas which is larger and secretes digestive enzymes that are involved in the breakdown of proteins and fats in the food.
- The endocrine pancreas is smaller in size and secretes hormones that regulate blood sugar g.: insulin and glucagon
Any abnormality in the endocrine pancreas results in diabetes mellitus. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) is the failure of the pancreas to produce the digestive enzyme. This leads to malnutrition as the ingested food cannot be broken down and absorbed properly. This condition can be genetic or develops later in life due to chronic inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of EPI include increased appetite but weight loss, diarrhea, and poor hair coat due to malnutrition. Treatment includes lifelong therapy of oral supplementation with pancreatitis enzyme which aids in digestion and absorption of food.