Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a severe condition that affects one in every 10,000 children. A. John Yazdi, MD with Pediatric Gastroenterology of Colorado Springs in Colorado Springs, Colorado, helps his patients and their families understand how it can change their child’s life and ways to manage the problem. If you suspect your child has EoE, make an appointment now to see Dr. Yazdi and get a proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the esophagus.
The esophagus is a muscular organ that connects the throat from the pharynx (voice box) to the stomach. Sometimes called the food pipe or gullet, this is how food passes from the mouth into the digestive system.
Excess white blood cells -- specifically, eosinophils -- that accumulate in the tube cause the inflammation. When that happens, the esophagus swells and becomes very narrow, making it difficult for food to pass.
Over time, EoE can lead to scarring and severe narrowing of the esophagus, making it almost impossible to eat without treatment.
In 2006, prominent scientists and doctors formed The International Gastrointestinal Eosinophil Researchers in hopes of understanding more about EoE. Thanks to their research, the current leading theory is that it's an allergic reaction.
The disease is more prevalent in kids with other allergic diseases, too, such as asthma or food allergies. It tends to affect white males most often.
In children, the symptoms of EoE include:
The symptoms often mimic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, a patient with EoE won’t respond to conventional GERD treatments, including diet changes and antacids.
Dr. Yazdi will typically order an upper endoscopy if he suspects EoE. That involves passing a narrow tube down into the esophagus to allow him to look for excess eosinophils.
Often a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis, too. A biopsy means that Dr. Yazdi takes a few small samples of the cells for assessment. He does this during the endoscopy procedure.
Blood tests can also show higher than average eosinophils present, suggesting an allergic response. Dr. Yazdi might also decide to do a food-patch test looking for specific allergic reactions that might trigger the inflammation.
Once diagnosed, Dr. Yazdi orders dietary changes and create a proper treatment plan for the disease that might include medication and dilation, if necessary.