Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic allergic or immune condition affecting the esophagus. Once considered a rare disease, it has become increasingly more common over the last 20 years and is now the chief cause of swallowing difficulties in young adults. Young children can also develop EoE, and can have trouble gaining weight and other feeding difficulties.
While the cause is not completely clear, it is currently thought to be an allergic reaction to either food or the environment. The allergic reaction causes specialized white blood cells, eosinophils, to collect and build up in the esophagus. The resulting inflammation causes narrowing of the esophagus, leading to difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and food impaction. Long term exposure to stomach acid due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause the accumulation of eosinophils.
The only way to confirm EoE is undergoing an Upper GI (EGD). During the procedure the doctor will take small samples of the lining of the esophagus. The sample is then viewed under a microscope and inspected for the presence of eosinophils. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment usually includes eliminating food groups in order to determine allergies. Medications are also prescribed. EOE is a chronic condition and at this time there is no cure. Medical monitoring is important for patients with eosinophilic esophagitis. If you have been diagnosed, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation for follow up visits.