Eosinophilic esophagitis

What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is a chronic immune disorder in which dense collections of inflammatory cells, in particular a type of white blood cell called eosinophils, become abnormally active in the lining of the esophagus. This can lead to inflammation, scarring, and narrowing of the esophageal tubes. The inflammation can cause difficulty in swallowing, reflux-like symptoms of pain or heartburn, and food being lodged in the esophagus. EE is a relatively rare condition—the number of people with EE has been rapidly increasing, but it still affects fewer people than more common gastrointestinal diseases.

Preparation for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is diagnosed through a series of tests, including an upper endoscopy with biopsy, imaging tests such as X-rays or CT, and allergy tests such as patch tests or skin prick tests. Blood tests may also be ordered to check for specific markers of inflammation.

Treatment for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is primarily treated with lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes or medications. Dietary changes may include eliminating certain difficult-to-digest foods that can irritate the esophagus and cause symptoms. Medications, such as corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antihistamines, can also be used to reduce inflammation and provide relief from symptoms. In severe cases, an endoscopic procedure called dilation may be needed to open and widen the narrowed esophagus. Surgery may also be necessary to treat some cases of EE.

Types of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

There are two types of eosinophilic esophagitis: allergic and non-allergic. Allergic EE is caused by an allergic reaction to certain foods, while non-allergic EE can be caused by environmental or chemical exposures.

Risks of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

The main risk associated with eosinophilic esophagitis is the narrowing of the esophagus, which can lead to difficulty in swallowing or choking. In addition, scarring of the esophagus can result in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People with EE are also at risk of developing food allergies and gastroesophageal reflux (GER) with certain foods.

Why is Eosinophilic Esophagitis Treated?

Eosinophilic esophagitis is treated to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of those affected. Treatment can also decrease disease progression, prevent further damage to the esophagus, and reduce complications such as GERD.

When to Seek Medical Care for Eosinophilic Esophagitis?

People with persistent throat discomfort, difficulty swallowing, or a feeling that food is stuck in their throat should seek medical attention. It is important to talk to a doctor if you have any of these symptoms as they may be signs of eosinophilic esophagitis. People with EE should also watch for signs and symptoms of food allergies, such as hives, itching, coughing, or swelling of the throat or mouth, as these can be signs of an allergic reaction. Additionally, people with EE should avoid foods that have been known to trigger allergic reactions.