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Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Key Points

  • Eosinophilic esophagitis is a medical condition caused by an accumulation of a certain type of white blood cell in the esophagus, leading to discomfort and difficulty swallowing, among other symptoms.
  • The condition is often linked to allergies, asthma, inflammation, environmental factors, and genetics.
  • While there is no known cure, prevention methods include avoiding allergens and asthma triggers, and modifying living conditions, especially in cold, dry climates.
  • Treatment options are available to manage symptoms, such as dietary therapy, oral steroids, and proton pump inhibitors.
  • Individuals with a family history of the condition or those living in colder, drier climates are at an increased risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis.

Possible Symptoms for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

1. Pain

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition that causes eosinophils, or specific white blood cells in the body, to be found inside the esophagus.[1] The condition is painful because the white blood cells build up in the esophagus. Some of the common types of pain experienced by those with the condition include heartburn, abdominal pain, and chest pain.

2. Trouble swallowing

The buildup of the eosinophils makes it hard to swallow. When this condition appears in children, it can make it difficult for them to feed or drink for no apparent reason, and it can also lead to weight loss. Adults sometimes become unable to pass food from the mouth to the stomach because of the pain and discomfort.[1]

3. Vomiting and regurgitation

Children might vomit as a result of the condition. Adults typically regurgitate their food without having digested it at all.[1]

4. No response to GERD medication

These symptoms can seem similar to those of acid reflux or even gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, the condition that can cause acid reflux several times a week. Often, those with eosinophilic esophagitis are treated with GERD medications first, but if they show no signs of relief, it could be a sign that they are dealing with eosinophilic esophagitis.[2]

Top 5 Causes of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

1. Allergies and asthma

Eosinophilic esophagitis is most often the result of an allergen in the environment reacting with the esophagus.[2] When you breathe in or eat something you’re allergic to over and over, it can cause the eosinophils to start growing inside your throat and then to multiply. Those with asthma are also more likely to develop the condition than those without it.

2. Inflammation

When the eosinophils multiply, it causes the production of a protein that creates inflammation or swelling. The swelling can become uncomfortable for the esophagus, and in many cases, it can cause damage to the tissue that lines the esophagus. Excessive tissue can form and scarring can occur, and the esophagus itself can become narrower as a result.

3. Symptoms breed worsening symptoms

With eosinophilic esophagitis, the symptoms caused by the illness actually cause the condition to worsen over time. When you have trouble swallowing (also known as dysphagia) or if the food you’re eating gets stuck in your throat (known as impaction), this can lead to worsened scarring and a buildup of even more eosinophils in the esophagus.

4. Environment

Those who live in colder and dryer climates are often more at risk of developing this condition.[2] In addition, those people will likely become diagnosed in the spring, summer, and fall when the pollen is much more intense, leading to allergic reactions.

5. Genetics

Eosinophilic esophagitis might be hereditary, as those who have family members with this illness are often more likely to develop it. Men are also more likely to develop it than women.

2 Ways to Prevent Eosinophilic Esophagitis

1. Avoid allergens and asthma reactions

There are currently no cures for eosinophilic esophagitis.[3] This is one reason why you should be aware of the condition if you have any risk factors associated with it, such as allergies or asthma. Avoiding asthma attacks and allergens can go a long way toward preventing the symptoms of this condition.

2. Change your living conditions

If you live in a particularly cold climate, dry climate, or both, you might want to consider moving, especially if your family members have a history of eosinophilic esophagitis and/or you suffer from allergies or asthma. If you can’t move, try to limit your interaction with the climate on especially dry or cold days. Be aware that the condition causes flareups more often in the spring, summer, and fall.[4]

Possible Eosinophilic esophagitis Treatment Options

1. Dietary therapy

This is usually the best treatment option for children because eating is often when eosinophilic esophagitis occurs.[4] Your doctor can perform an allergy test if you think it would be more helpful, but a less invasive way to determine the problem is to eliminate all the major foods that are likely to cause allergies and then to add them back into your child’s diet one by one. This can help determine which allergen, if any, is affecting your child, and it often causes the condition to clear up in as little as a few weeks.[4]

2. Steroids

For many years, the illness was considered to be specifically associated with children; however, doctors have recently discovered that it can appear in adults as well. The dietary therapy method can work for adults too, but many doctors will also provide oral steroids to minimize the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis. This treatment can only eliminate the symptoms of the illness for a short time and will not work as a cure, because the blood cells remain after the treatment.[4]

3. Proton pump inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors can also be used to treat and diagnose eosinophilic esophagitis. Many patients have a positive reaction to this treatment.[5] Still, those who receive it are simply treating the symptoms without actually dealing with the condition and its results. In most cases, it is still necessary to find out what, if any, allergens are working to cause eosinophilic esophagitis.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask about Eosinophilic Esophagitis

  • How long have you been experiencing symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis?
  • Do you have any allergies? If so, what are they?
  • Do you have asthma?
  • Did you have symptoms of this condition as a child?
  • Are you interested in doing an allergy test?

Eosinophilic Esophagitis May Also be Known as:

  • Pediatric eosinophilic esophagitis
  • EOE
  • Eosinophilic oesophagitis


Frequently asked questions

  • What is eosinophilic esophagitis?

    Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition where a certain type of white blood cell, called eosinophils, build up in the esophagus. This can lead to symptoms like pain, trouble swallowing, and vomiting.
  • What causes eosinophilic esophagitis?

    The condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, asthma, inflammation, environmental factors, and genetics.
  • Can eosinophilic esophagitis be cured?

    No, currently there is no known cure for eosinophilic esophagitis. However, there are treatments available to manage the symptoms.
  • What are the treatment options for eosinophilic esophagitis?

    Treatments for managing the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis include dietary therapy, oral steroids, and proton pump inhibitors.
  • How can I prevent eosinophilic esophagitis?

    Prevention strategies include avoiding allergens and asthma triggers, and changing living conditions, particularly in cold, dry climates.
  • Who is at risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis?

    Those with a family history of the condition, or who live in colder and dryer climates, are at a higher risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis.
  • Does eosinophilic esophagitis respond to GERD medication?

    No, one of the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis is a lack of response to GERD medication.
  • What are the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis?

    Symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis include pain, trouble swallowing, vomiting, and no response to GERD medication.

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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