What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?
Esophagitis (abbreviated EOE) is a chronic condition in which a person
has significant inflammation of the esophagus (swallowing tube). This
type of inflammation is different from others in that it is associated
with mostly eosinophils in the esophagus.
What are Eosinophils?
are a type of white blood cell. They can be involved in the immune
response to “regular” bacterial infections, infection with parasites are
the types of infections that cause the most vigorous reaction of
eosinophils. Eosinophils are also elevated when a person has allergies.
What causes EOE?
cause of EOE has not been completely worked out. However, it does
appear to be a combination of genetics and environment. Persons who have
a genetic susceptibility to EOE will develop the disease in response to
What are these allergic triggers for EOE?
Though food allergies are associated with EOE, there is some evidence that even pollen allergies may play a role in EOE.
What kinds of symptoms do people with EOE have?
of EOE typically vary with age. Whereas an infant or child may refuse
certain types of food or have vomiting and feeding problems, adults may
present with difficulty swallowing, heartburn or food “getting stuck” in
I have some of those symptoms, how can I be sure that I actually have EOE?
some of the above symptoms may represent EOE. However, one must proceed
with caution. EOE is relatively rare compared with other more common
illnesses that have the same symptoms such as reflux (commonly known as
GERD), or other types of food sensitivities.
How can I find out if I really have EOE?
doctor can determine by thorough history and careful physical exam if
your symptoms indicate that you have a high likelihood of having EOE. If
this is the case, he or she may recommend that you have further testing
to confirm the diagnosis.
What are these tests that are used to confirm the diagnosis of EOE?
with esophageal biopsy will determine if you have eosinophils in your
esophagus. Once that diagnosis has been made, you will need to have
allergy skin tests to determine your exact allergic sensitivities.
What kind of treatment is available for EOE?
EOE has likely existed for a very long time, the medical community has
learned quite a bit more about it since 2005. Since our better
understanding of the disease has only been for a relatively short amount
of time, there are limited treatment options at this time. Medications
are those which deliver appropriate anti-inflammatories to the lower
esophagus. The other main treatment option involves avoidance of
allergic triggers. There are some newer therapies involving monoclonal
antibodies that have shown some promise in treating EOE but these are
still in the investigational period.
What types of doctors treat EOE?
course, you should always talk to your primary care physician about any
problems you are having first. If it seems that you are more likely to
have EOE, your primary care physician may refer you to a
gastroenterologist and an allergist for further evaluation and testing.
Often the gastroenterologist and allergist will work as a team in
treating the patient with EOE.
What happens if EOE doesn’t get treated?
appropriate treatment, EOE can cause the esophagus to become further
damaged and patients may also develop esophageal stricture (a narrowing
of the esophagus that causes problems with swallowing). In children, the
symptoms can also cause severe feeding problems that will lead to
growth problems and failure to thrive.
Where can I get more information?
there is much information on the internet that is false and misleading,
there are many sources that are trustworthy and helpful for patients
with EOE. Check out the following websites: