Hypereosinophilic Syndromes

What is Hyper-Eosinophilic Syndrome?

Hyper-eosinophilic syndrome (HES) is a rare disorder characterized by a high level of eosinophils — a type of white blood cell — in the blood. Eosinophils are a normal part of the body's immune system and help fight infection, but in people with HES, these cells are overproduced and can accumulate in tissue and organs, leading to organ dysfunction and potentially life-threatening complications. HES is a multi-system disorder and can affect multiple organs, including the skin, lungs, heart, gastrointestinal system, and nervous system.

Signs and Symptoms of Hyper-eosinophilic Syndrome

The most common symptom of HES is fatigue. Other symptoms can vary depending on the affected organs and typically include:

  • Skin rash, itching, or lesions
  • Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes
  • Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Heart problems such as a heart murmur or arrhythmia
  • Unexplained fever or night sweats

Causes of Hyper-eosinophilic Syndrome

The exact cause of HES is unknown but may be due to an autoimmune reaction, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. It may also be due to an underlying infection or a reaction to certain drugs. HES is more common in men than women and usually affects people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.

Treatment of Hyper-eosinophilic Syndrome

The main goal of treatment for HES is to reduce the number of eosinophils in the blood. This is usually done with steroids or other medications that suppress the immune system. In some cases, chemotherapy or other treatments may be used. Surgery may be necessary to remove affected organs, such as the lungs or intestines.

In addition to medical treatments, lifestyle changes such as avoiding potential allergies and irritants, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet can help manage symptoms. Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is important to monitor the progress of condition.