The side effects of pancreatin are mostly related to digestive problems, such as stomach irritation, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. If a supplement is taken under medical supervision, the side effects are mild and would occur rarely.
Pancreatin refers to a group of digestive enzymes secreted by specific cells (exocrine) of the pancreas. To be more precise, it contains enzymes―protease, amylase, and lipase in a specific ratio. It is also known by the name pancreatic acid, though it is not acidic in nature. Its major benefit is that it helps in digestion of foods, as well as in eradication of cancer. When we say pancreatin side effects, it refers to the symptoms that result after taking pancreatin supplements, which are marketed under different trade names.
Commercially, pancreatic supplements are derived from the frozen pancreatic glands of porcine or beef. These frozen sources are processed to get a high-grade pancreatin enzyme. The supplements are advocated to treat effects of pancreas problems or when pancreatic secretions are deficient in the body. Thus, they are often recommended to patients of pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis), cystic fibrosis, and Crohn’s disease.
In recent times, the proponents of pancreatin are of the opinion this supplement aids in combating mucoviscidosis, celiac disease, food allergies, autoimmune disease, cancer, and obesity. Those who have their pancreas removed, either partially or fully, are administered with pancreatin to make up the lack of pancreatic enzymes. Nevertheless, as with any drug, there are certain side effects which should be considered prior to advocating this supplement.
Pancreatin is available as prescription and non-prescription supplements. Needless to say, the digestive enzymes present in different brands vary, and the responses observed vary from one person to another. The doctor is the best person to decide individualized dosage based on a person’s requirement and the concentration present in the particular tablet. Considering this, it is very important to take this supplement under strict medical supervision. Failure to do so may result in various side effects.
Diarrhea: One of the most commonly reported side effects is diarrhea. This is because, the body system may overact to external sources of pancreatic enzymes. Usually, the diarrhea subsides within a few days without medical intervention.
Constipation: In some patients, constipation is observed after administration of the supplement. Similar to pancreatin related diarrhea, constipation improve within 2 – 3 days, by which time the body gets used to this supplement.
Nausea: Nausea and dizziness are common symptoms manifested due to lack of pancreatic secretions. These symptoms may persist even after introducing the supplement for the first time. With time, the feeling will subside as the body gets adjusted to external pancreatin.
Stomach Irritation: Stomach discomfort, particularly within the first week of treatment, is another uncomfortable effect. In case pain in the abdominal area remains for more than 2 days, consult the doctor. It may be a case of intestinal obstruction, which occurs due to pancreatin overdose.
Skin Conditions: This occurs when an individual is allergic to the ingredients present in the supplement. Under such a case, it is practical to stop taking the supplement and seek medical attention as soon as possible, so as to avoid further complications.
Other Side Effects: Other effects may include malabsorption of nutrients and increased uric acid content in the blood and urine. In case of prolonged treatment (more than 2 months), the pancreas may stop secretion of the digestive enzyme, after which the patient may require to take pancreatin for a lifetime.
Last but not the least, people who have underlying medical problems (especially hypertension, liver disease and gallstone) should refrain from non-prescription supplements. Women who are planning to have a child, already pregnant, or breastfeeding, should strictly avoid self-administration of pancreatin.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.