Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic condition that affects your esophagus, which is the tube that travels from your mouth to your stomach.
When you have EoE, there’s a large amount of eosinophils — a certain type of white blood cell — in your esophagus which causes it to become inflamed. This, in turn, causes symptoms that are almost identical to acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which has commonly led to problems with misdiagnosis in the past.
Only more recently has EoE started to be properly detected, diagnosed, and treated.
Because EoE is often missed and mistaken for other health conditions, Chad Mayer, DO, FAAAAI, FAAP, Ronda Barak-Norris, MD, FACAAI, and the rest of our team at Allergy and Asthma Institute of SE Michigan located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, want you to recognize the symptoms of and risks for EoE.
Although experts still aren’t quite sure how it works, allergies seem to be the biggest risk factor for EoE that might involve food allergies or environmental allergies. Studies seem to suggest that having an allergic reaction causes the eosinophils to travel to your esophagus causing the inflammation.
The most common allergens seen associated with EoE are food allergens like dairy, eggs, and wheat and environmental allergens such as pollen and pet dander. Those living with allergy-related conditions, such as eczema and asthma are also at a higher risk for EoE.
Some other factors that can play a role in your risk for EoE include your sex and your age. While previously only diagnosed in children, many adult males between the ages of 20 and 40 are being diagnosed with EoE more and more. Those living in a cold and dry climate are also shown to be at risk.
If you’re struggling with EoE, you’re going to have symptoms that include:
Because EoE causes your esophagus to become inflamed and swollen, it can be difficult for you to swallow foods that are dry or dense. Food can even become lodged in your esophagus — a problem known as food impaction — which is a medical emergency if it doesn’t pass to your stomach or get vomited back up.
To be diagnosed with EoE, acid reflux and GERD have to be ruled out since the symptoms are the same. Typically, you’re placed on reflux medication first. If your symptoms don’t improve, then EoE diagnosis can be explored.
EoE is diagnosed through tests known as an upper endoscopy and biopsy performed by a Gastroenterologist. The Gastroenterologist examines your esophagus for any signs of inflammation and then takes samples of your esophagus to look for the presence of eosinophils. If EOE is diagnosed then an allergist experienced in the treatment of EOE should be seen.
If you have allergies or other allergy-related conditions, you might be at risk for EoE. Contact our team today if you’re experiencing symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, so you can be evaluated for possible EoE. You can schedule an appointment with us over the phone or online.