Eosinophilic esophagitis refers to chronic inflammation of the esophagus caused by white blood cells called eosinophils. These types of cells are not normally present in this part of the body. This persistent swelling makes it difficult to swallow, especially while eating solid foods. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a newly recognized disease with symptoms similar to acid reflux. Children with the condition may refuse to eat, vomit after eating or experience heartburn. Some may actually get food stuck in the esophagus, which is a dangerous symptom known as food impaction.
Many experts believe that allergens are likely behind eosinophilic esophagitis. Some research has even shown that when food allergens are taken out of the diet, the symptoms resolve. Eosinophilic esophagitis appears to run in families and can also be triggered by environmental allergens like dust mites, pollen and animals. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), researchers have found an environmental link between eosinophilic esophagitis and mold. Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to contribute to the disorder.
Treating Eosinophilic esophagitis
At this point in time, the disease has no cure. The most common treatment approach involves making dietary changes and to avoid any known food allergens. Drugs that reduce the eosinophilis count in the esophagus may also improve symptoms. One of the best treatments for improving symptoms includes anti-inflammatory drugs. Oral and topical steroids are also commonly prescribed.
According to the ACAAI, eosinophilic esophagitis affects one to four out of every 10,000 people in the United States. The organization estimates that 50 percent of patients with this disorder also suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma. Food allergies and eczema also commonly coexist alongside eosinophilic esophagitis. According to the ACAAI, a biopsy of the esophagus must be performed in order to diagnose the disease. Allergists and gastroenterologists may help in diagnosis and treatment.
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