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by Jones P

Definition

Eosinophilic esophagitis is an inflammation of the tube (esophagus) that runs from your mouth to your stomach. Swelling and inflammation can make it hard to swallow.

Causes    

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a build up of white blood cells in the esophagus. They cause inflammation, swelling and break down of the tissue over time.

It is not clear why this happens. Some things that may play a role include:

  • Problem of the immune system
  • An allergy
  • Irritation from stomach acid

Risk Factors    

Factors that may increase your risk of eosinophilic esophagitis include:

Symptoms    

Symptoms may include:

  • Having a hard time swallowing
  • Food getting stuck on the way to the stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Stomach ache

Diagnosis    

You will be asked about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

An endoscopy will be done. A sample of tissue will be removed. It will be sent to a lab to check for white blood cells.

Treatment

Eosinophilic esophagitis cannot be cured but certain steps can help manage the symptoms. Options include:

Knowing and Avoiding Allergens

Certain foods or swallowing and breathing in allergens can make swelling worse. Mold, pollen, or dust are common problems. Tests may help to find what is causing the reaction.

Steps may help to avoid or lessen contact with the allergen.

Medicine

Medicine that may help include:

  • Steroids may help ease swallowing.
    • Pills may be used for severe reactions.
    • Inhaled medicine may help mild symptoms.
  • Medicine may be needed to control GERD. Proton pump inhibitors are a common choice.

Prevention   

There are no steps to prevent eosinophilic esophagitis.

RESOURCES

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology  http://www.acaai.org 

National Organization for Rare Disorders  http://www.rarediseases.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Foundation  http://www.allergyfoundation.ca 

Health Canada  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca 

References

Eosinophilic esophagitis. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/related-conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis.aspx. Accessed August 22, 2019.

Eosinophilic esophagitis. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website. Available at: http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies/types-food-allergy/eosinophilic-esophagitis. Accessed August 22, 2019.

Eosinophilic esophagitis. National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/eosinophilic-esophagitis/. Published 2016. Accessed August 22, 2019.

Eosinophilic esophagitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/eosinophilic-esophagitis-in-adults  . Updated August 2, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2019.

Furuta GT, Katzka DA. Eosinophilic Esophagitis. N Engl J Med. 2015 Oct 22;373(17):1640-1648.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease: proton pump inhibitors. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:  https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center . Updated September 28, 2018. Accessed November 19, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2019
  • Update Date: 11/19/2019