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As an adult with CF, you may need to take a different amount of pancreatic enzymes than when you were younger. Take your pancreatic enzymes during meals and snacks. How many pancreatic enzymes you take will depend on your age, body size, and the amount and type of food you eat. Your CF care team will help you decide how many pancreatic enzymes you should take. It's important to take your pancreatic enzymes as directed. Taking an incorrect dose can have harmful side effects.1,2

The information in this section is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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General tips for taking your pancreatic enzymes1,2:

  • Take pancreatic enzymes with enough fluid to help prevent constipation. Check with your CF care team to help with this
  • Pancreatic enzyme beads should never be crushed, chewed, or held in your mouth for too long
  • Keep an eye on your weight. Gaining or maintaining your weight is a good way to see if you're digesting and absorbing your food
  • Check your stool. Change in stool habits can be a sign that your pancreatic enzyme dosage needs to be adjusted or that the enzymes aren't working properly. Let your CF care team know if you notice changes in your stool habits
  • Keep pancreatic enzymes away from moisture and heat. Do not store them in direct sunlight, in the bathroom, or somewhere you think might be too warm. Pancreatic enzymes are sensitive and can become less effective earlier than the expiration date on the label if not stored correctly

If you forget to take your pancreatic enzymes right before a meal or snack, take them within 30 minutes of eating. Taking pancreatic enzymes after eating is not encouraged, but it's better to take them late than not at all. Here are some tricks for remembering your pancreatic enzymes:

  • Have a compact carrying case, or pill box, that can hold a meal's worth of pancreatic enzymes. Keep it in something you use every day (such as a jacket pocket or purse)
  • When you're out to dinner and don't want anyone to see you take pancreatic enzymes, excuse yourself to the restroom. Take your pancreatic enzymes in there and then return to your table. Do this as close to eating the meal as possible
  • Place full containers of pancreatic enzymes in places you go every day (such as a kitchen, desk at work, school locker, backpack, purse, etc)

Some foods DO NOT need pancreatic enzymes2

There are some foods and drinks that do not require you to take pancreatic enzymes with them. These are often simple carbohydrates (such as sugar) that are easy for the body to digest. Some examples are:
  • Fruits
  • Juice and juice drinks
  • Soft drinks or sports drinks
  • Infant rehydrating formulas (such as Pedialyte®)
  • Coffee or tea (without cream)
  • Hard candy (such as lollipops)
  • Fruit snacks
  • Jelly beans
  • Gum
  • Popsicles®, freezer pops, flavored ice
References: 1. Enzyme guidelines for adults with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Education website. http://www.cfeducation.ca/pdf/Enzymes_Adults.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2016. 2. Nutrition: pancreatic enzyme replacement in people with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. https://www.cff.org/PDF-Archive/Pancreatic-Enzyme-Replacement/. Accessed May 1, 2016.

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