Eosinophilic esophagitis – Symptoms, causes, and therapy
Eosinophilic esophagitis, widely known as EoE, is an allergic condition of the esophagus – the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. When a person suffers from it, their esophagus becomes inflamed and unable to contract. This condition can lead to the development of abscesses or rings, and the body employs eosinophils, better known as white blood cells, to counter it. It can happen at any age, and the symptoms vary between persons.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is a disease that is often confused with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) due to matching symptoms. The symptoms of the condition differ with age and can also vary from one patient to another, but may include trouble while swallowing, food getting stuck in the throat, upper abdominal and chest pain, heartburn, and vomiting.
Causes and risk factors
This condition develops when eosinophils build up in the esophagus, causing discomfort and inflammation. Multiple factors like food allergies, history of the disease in the family, and climatic conditions may put a person at risk of developing this health condition.
Food allergies are one of the biggest risk factors as it triggers the eosinophils to travel to the esophagus. It can sometimes even lead to medical emergencies and may require the assistance of a healthcare professional. Foods that trigger allergies include dairy products, soy, eggs, and wheat.
Some illnesses can be passed on from one person to the other hereditarily. Genetics plays a huge part in this condition. People with a family history of eosinophilic esophagitis are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
A person living in the coldest parts of the country may be more at risk of developing this condition than others. A flare-up may also happen during the other seasons, such as summer, spring, or fall.
As GERD shares certain symptoms with this condition, the doctors will rule out acid reflux and ask for further diagnostic tests like endoscopy and blood tests.
The doctor examines the upper part of the digestive tract through this test. A thin and long scope is used to locate signs of inflammation and white blood cells. Sometimes, even tissue samples are taken for a biopsy.
Sometimes blood tests are carried out to see if the patient is sensitive to a particular allergen. Blood test detects immunoglobulin E (IgE) circulating in the blood. It proves helpful in detecting certain conditions linked to IgE-mediated food allergies.
There are various ways to treat this condition, requiring the patient to continuously work with the doctors to see good results. Some of the treatment methods are-
This surgical procedure removes either a part of the esophagus or completely removes it, then reconstructs it using parts of different organs to ease digestion.
One of the most practical ways to treat this condition is to avoid all sources of allergens, either food or environmental. It helps in steering clear of all triggers that may make cause flare-ups.