Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE) is an inflammatory disease of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. With EE, there are a large number of white blood cells called eosinophils in the esophagus.
EE is caused by food allergies, and possibly airborne allergens.
The disease was first described in children but occurs in adults as well.
Symptoms typically resemble reflux disease but do not get better with anti-reflux medications. They may include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Food getting stuck in the esophagus
Young children may also have slow or poor growth.
Your child’s doctor may do some tests to find out if there are eosinophils in the esophagus. These tests include:
- Endoscopy – using an instrument called an endoscope to look inside the esophagus
- Biopsy – a sample of tissue from the esophagus is removed and tested
The following treatments are available for children with EE:
- Change in diet
- Prescription medications
- Mechanical dilatation of the esophagus
The initial approach to the disorder is often allergy evaluation in an attempt to identify the allergens in the diet that may be triggering the disease. If the offending agent is found, the diet is modified so that these allergens are eliminated. There are cases where there are multiple food allergies involved. Some patients require an elemental diet through the use of a specialty formula. Sticking to this diet and drinking the required amount of formula can be difficult. The use of feeding tubes in these situations is often required. A dietician will help make sure your child is getting the proper nutrition.