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Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Eosinophil – A type of white blood cell

Esophagitis – Irritation or inflammation to the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach)

Eosinophilic Esophagitis is the inflammatory process caused by a reaction to food allergens or acid reflux where a type of white blood cell builds up on the lining of the esophagus, thus causing the esophagus to “stiffen” and potentially not work as efficiently.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Food gets stuck in your throat

  • Vomiting

  • Heartburn

  • Persistent “ball in the throat” sensation

 

We are learning more about eosinophilic esophagitis every day.  It was once thought that this condition was caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, as this too can generate a lot of eosinophils in the esophagus; however, we have since learned that eosinophilic esophagitis is a separate and distinct condition.

Conditions that increase your risk for eosinophilic esophagitis include:

  • Living in a cold or dry climate.

  • Time of the year – Spending more time outdoors.  Pollens and other allergens are more prevalent in the spring and fall.

  • Being male.

  • Family history of eosinophilic esophagitis.

  • If you have food or other allergies.

 

Complications: Potential (but not irreversible) “stiffening” of the esophagus that can cause swallowing difficulties

 

Diagnosing:  Eosinophilic esophagitis is a tissue diagnosis and can only be diagnosed by EGD with esophageal biopsy