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Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic condition that occurs in the esophagus. The esophagus becomes red and swollen. The symptoms happen when your immune system make white blood cells in reaction to an allergen. The white blood cellsare called eosinophils.

The condition is called eosinophilic esophagitis, or EE or EoE. It can occur at any age and commonly seen in white males.

Symptoms

Symptoms of EoE vary from person to person and may include:

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Chest pain

  • Abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

  • Food getting stuck in the throat due to narrowing (this is a medical emergency)

  • Stunted growth or poor weight gain in children

Who is at risk for EoE?

People with asthma and food or environmental allergies have a much greater chance of developing it.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will take your medical history and will likely want to test you for allergies. He or she will probably do an endoscopy. This is an outpatient procedure that involves passing a thin, flexible endoscope with a camera through your mouth and down your throat to look at your esophagus. The doctor will check for physical signs of inflammation and an increased number of eosinophils. To confirm the diagnosis, your health provider will likely need to take a biopsy, or tissue sample, from your esophagus.

Treatment

For treatment, you will need to work closely with an allergist and/or a gastroenterologist, a specialist in digestive (stomach and swallowing) disorders. They’ll help you figure out what substances or foods to avoid. No specific medications can cure EoE, although certain medications, such as corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors, and eliminating specific foods - diary, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nuts, and fish - from your diet can help reduce the redness and swelling in your esophagus.

You can help manage EoE by learning what substances cause your allergic reaction and avoiding them. In many cases, the allergens come from food. It’s also important to know that reactions related to EoE might take days or weeks to develop. Keep this in mind when beginning a food elimination plan. It might take some time after avoiding a particular food to determine whether that strategy worked.

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Food stuck in your  throat

  • Difficulty breathing or talking

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you have EoE and notice any of these symptoms:

  • Increasing weight loss

  • Increase in vomiting

  • Chest pain

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 3/4/2015
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