ANSWER: It sounds like the primary problem with your pancreas is that it isn’t doing its major job, which is to secrete digestive enzymes into the intestines. Without those enzymes, you can’t properly digest foods, causing bloating and diarrhea (largely from fat not being absorbed). This condition is called pancreatic insufficiency. Creon is a brand of replacement pancreatic enzymes: These can reduce pain and dramatically improve digestion.
ANSWER: The word “angioectasia” is from Greek roots, meaning “dilated blood vessel.” This condition is more commonly called angiodysplasia (meaning abnormal growth of blood vessels). It is unclear why these occur more often in the elderly; however, they occur most frequently in the gastrointestinal tract — especially the colon, but also the small intestine and, less frequently, the stomach. They cause problems most often by bleeding, which is a problem in itself, but it also may lead to many prolonged searches for other causes of bleeding, especially colon cancer.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I had a blood transfusion in 2000. Would the fact that someone else’s blood was used affect the results of a DNA test for ethnic breakdown for genealogical purposes?
Angiodysplasia can occur by itself or in association with other medical conditions. One I always look for is aortic stenosis, which can be found by physical exam. Another is von Willebrand’s disease, a common but often-undiagnosed bleeding problem. These would be worth considering, especially in a younger person.