What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic condition that affects the esophagus. With this condition, white blood cells called eosinophils build up in the esophagus or the tube that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. This results in damage and inflammation, which can cause pain and trouble swallowing.
Overall, symptoms associated with EoE will differ depending on your age. While infants and toddlers may experience feeding issues, vomiting, poor growth or reflux, older children may experience vomiting, abdominal pain, issues swallowing, reflux or poor appetite. Adults may find they have trouble swallowing, have a feeling of food getting stuck in their throat, reflux, heartburn or chest pain.
How is Eosinophilic Esophagitis Diagnosed?
It is not certain what causes EoE, however, experts believe that it is an immune system reaction to certain foods or substances in the environment. Because there are other conditions that may have similar symptoms as EoE, your doctor will speak with you regarding your medical history and your symptoms. Certain tests may also be needed for proper diagnosis, including upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a biopsy, blood tests or allergy tests.
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Treatment Options for Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Treatment for EoE will depend on a number of factors, including your symptoms, age and overall health history. Options may consist of:
Trying out an elimination diet can help pinpoint which foods may be causing symptoms. You will stop eating or drinking certain foods and beverages for several weeks. Then, if you are feeling better, begin to add the foods back into your diet one at a time. Endoscopies may be repeated to see whether or not you are tolerating these foods well.
Elemental diets are also an option, during which all sources of allergens are removed from the diet. An amino acid formula will be taken instead of other foods. A feeding tube may be used for young children. This option is usually reserved for children with multiple food allergies who have not responded to other treatment options.
Topical or oral steroid medications can help to control inflammation. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may help with reflux symptoms as well as decrease inflammation.
Overall, EoE is a complex disorder, so it is important that you listen to your GI doctor regarding the management of your conditions. You may also need to work alongside your allergist or immunologist to determine if allergies play a role in your symptoms. Individuals taking part in dietary changes to treat EoE may also benefit from a dietician who is knowledgeable regarding elimination diets.
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At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Eosinophilic Esophagitis or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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