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Eosinophilic Esophagitis Defined

Eosinophilic (ee-uh-sin-uh-fil-ik) esophagitis (EoE) is an allergic condition caused by inflammation of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that sends food from the throat to the stomach. The most common symptom of EoE in adults is difficulty swallowing solid, particularly dry or dense foods. Symptoms in children vary and may include abdominal pain, vomiting, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, insufficient weight gain, and failure to thrive. Inflammation in individuals with EoE is often caused by an allergic reaction to specific food proteins. Most of the time, the allergic reactions to specific foods are delayed and develop over days, which is different than other food allergic reactions that occur immediately. Most adults and children with EoE do not have rashes, swelling or difficulty breathing immediately after eating specific foods. However, eating the foods may contribute to the symptoms of EoE. Many people with EoE have a family history of allergic disorders such as asthma, rhinitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema) or food allergy.

In order to diagnose EoE, a doctor will perform an endoscopy and a biopsy of the esophagus. This is usually done after medications to control acid reflux have failed to improve symptoms. At the current time, treatments include food elimination diets and the use of anti-inflammatory medications that are swallowed, with the goal of coating the esophagus with the medication to reduce inflammation.

Diagnosing the condition is often a coordinated effort between a gastroenterologist and an an allergist / immunologist. An allergist will determine the role that allergies may play in EoE. Your allergist may perform allergy testing to diagnose which specific allergens may be involved with your EoE, although these tests often have limited value in identifying the foods involved in the eosinophilic esophagitis.

Learn more about eosinophilic esophagitis symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management.

Video: What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)?

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