Eosinophilic esophagitis is a recently recognized allergic condition. An individual with this condition experiences inflammation or swelling of the esophagus which is the tube that transports food from the mouth to the stomach.
If eosinophilic esophagitis is diagnosed, a large number of white blood cells are present in the tissue of the esophagus. Normally, there are no eosinophils in the esophagus. The condition can occur at any age, but mostly in Caucasian males.
The symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis vary with age. Among infants and toddlers, they refuse their food or not growing properly. As for school-age children, they often have recurring vomiting, difficulty swallowing or abdominal pain. Remember that the esophagus can narrow to the point that food gets stuck which is considered as a medical emergency.
Diagnosing eosinophilic esophagitis
At the present, the only way to properly diagnose eosinophilic esophagitis is through endoscopy and biopsy of the esophagus.
Connection with allergies
Many individuals with the condition are atopic. An atopic individual usually have a family history of asthma or allergies and symptoms of one or several allergic disorders.
After the diagnosis of the condition, allergy testing is vital. This will provide information regarding any allergy aspects of the condition that can be treated properly. In addition, a diet therapy can be planned out.
Allergies to environmental allergens such as animal dander, dust mites, mold and pollen can play a role in eosinophilic esophagitis. In some individuals, the condition becomes worse during the peak pollen season.
An adverse immune response to food is also the main cause of the condition in many individuals. It is important to note that the connection amid food allergy and eosinophilic esophagitis is multifaceted.
It is difficult to establish the role of foods since the reactions are slower and a single food is hard to determine as the trigger. The allergist will perform a series of various allergy tests to identify the trigger foods. Foods such as egg, dairy products, soy and wheat are the main causes of the condition. Once a particular food has been eliminated from the diet, the symptoms typically improve in a few weeks.
If an individual is diagnosed with specific food allergies after a skin prick test and patch testing, the doctor will eliminate specific foods from the diet. In some cases, this will help control eosinophilic esophagitis.
The elimination of major food allergens from the diet prior to any food allergy testing is also used as a treatment for the condition. The common foods include egg, dairy, soy, wheat, tree nuts, peanut and fish. These diets are highly beneficial in managing the condition but many find it difficult to follow.
At the present, there are no medications that are currently approved to manage eosinophilic esophagitis. Nevertheless, there are medications that reduce the number of eosinophils in the esophagus and improve the symptoms. Glucocorticoids are useful in managing the condition.