Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an inflammatory condition of the esophagus caused by an allergic reaction. Eosinophil, a type of white blood cell, builds up in the lining of the esophagus in response to allergens or acid reflux. The resulting inflammation can make swallowing difficult.
EoE was only recognized as a separate disorder about 20 years ago, but has become a common diagnosis by both gastroenterologists and asthma and allergy specialists. The increase in diagnoses comes from both a better recognition and understanding of the condition and in the increase of the condition itself. It is diagnosed in both adults and children.
Symptoms of EoE can vary widely depending on the age of the patient. In children, symptoms also vary depending on the developmental stage of the child. Babies and young toddlers may show general feeding dysfunction and failure to grow at an acceptable rate. As the child ages, symptoms range from vomiting and abdominal pain to food becoming impacted in the esophagus. Please note: feeding difficulties in babies and young toddlers should be discussed immediately with the child’s pediatrician.
In adults, the symptoms are:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Food impaction
- Heartburn pain
- Upper abdominal pain
EoE is often associated with other allergic disorders such as hay fever, known food or medicine allergies, atopic dermatitis, and asthma. Some studies also show an association with celiac disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of EoE is based on a medical history and symptoms and must be confirmed with a upper endoscopy and tissue biopsy. Since EoE is often a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the first line of treatment is the use of PPIs. In cases that do not respond to GERD treatment, patients are advised to avoid foods that commonly trigger allergic reactions, have allergy testing done, and medications.
Contact Cary Gastroenterology today to learn more about EoE or discuss your symptoms.