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What is Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a newly recognized chronic disease that can be associated with food allergies. It is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adults. EoE is characterized by inflammation and accumulation of a specific type of immune cell, called an eosinophil, in the esophagus. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell. They help fight off infections and play a role in your body’s immune response. They can also build up and cause inflammation. Normally your blood doesn’t have a large number of eosinophils. Your body may produce more of them in response to, allergic disorders, skin conditions, parasitic and fungal infection, autoimmune diseases, some cancers, and bone marrow disorders. In some conditions, the eosinophils can move outside the bloodstream and build up in organs and tissues. Symptoms of EoE include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain after eating. A person may also have symptoms that resemble acid reflux from the stomach. In older children and adults, it can cause more severe symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing solid food or solid food sticking in the esophagus for more than a few minutes. In infants, this disease may be associated with failure to thrive. In some situations, avoiding certain food allergens will be an effective treatment for EoE.

Eosinophilic gastroenteritis occurs when certain white blood cells known as eosinophils get into the digestive tract and cause damage. Symptoms of eosinophilic gastroenteritis usually start in adulthood and may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and the inability to absorb nutrients from food. Sometimes, a blockage in the intestines occurs. In most people, symptoms occur from time to time and may go away completely with treatment. The exact cause of eosinophilic gastroenteritis is unknown, but it may be due to an abnormal response of the immune system to food allergies. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, a clinical exam, laboratory tests, and by excluding other more common conditions. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms and includes diet and medication.[1][2][3][4][5]

Diagnosis of eosinophilic gastroenteritis is based on the symptoms, clinical exam, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Laboratory tests may include blood tests for immunoglobulins, red and white blood cell levels, and infections. Imaging studies may include a CT scan and an endoscopy to look at the stomach and intestines. It may also be necessary to do a take a small piece of tissue from the intestine to exam under the microscope (biopsy). It is often necessary to exclude other more conditions before diagnosing eosinophilic gastroenteritis.[1][2]

This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).

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