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What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?

Posted Jan 11 2010 12:00am
While it's hard to pronounce, this newly recognized allergic disease is increasingly being diagnosed in both children and adults. I've been hearing about this disorder from parents recently. I wondered about it and did some research.

I learned that we all have, and need, eosinophils in our bodies. They are located throughout our immune system to help fight off infections and parasites. Eosinophils are not typically found in our espophagus, though. For some people, the eosinophils travel to the esophagus and cause inflammation. The result is a painful disease called Eosinophilic esophagitis, or EE.

The disease of EE can cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, reflux, failure to thrive and difficulty sleeping. Those with EE commonly have other allergic disease such as asthma and eczema.

A diagnosis can be made through an endoscopy. If EE is confirmed, food allergy testing is conducted to determine which foods the person should avoid so the eosinophils are not triggered. The difference here from traditional food allergy testing, is that there may not be an apparent immediate reaction. It can take days and weeks for the offending food to trigger a response from the eosinophils. Hence, the difficulty with diagnosis.

The American Partnership for Eosinophil Disorders offers a lot of information about the disease. They also offer advice that is relevant to many in the wider food allergy community such as celebrating without food and information on IEP's (Individualized Healthcare Plans) and 504 plans. They even show some really creative "no cake birthday cakes".

This is yet another allergic disorder on the rise. I always seem to come back to the questions, "What's at the root of all these allergies?"
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