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Sarah S. Kehl, M.D.

Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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There’s help available for those diagnosed with eosinophilic ecsophagitis

Posted by on in Allergy
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140523EoEimageThose who’ve experienced repeated swallowing trouble are sometimes diagnosed with a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). Although this condition is chronic, it can usually be managed effectively with medications or by avoiding foods that trigger the symptoms.

With this condition, foreign cells called eosinophil invade the esophagus. These cells release proteins that inflame the throat, making it difficult to swallow. In some EoE patients, food will become stuck in the esophagus. When this happens, emergency help is often needed to remove it. In babies, EoE can cause recurrent vomiting or feeding difficulties. Additional symptoms may include upper abdominal pain, chest pain or heartburn symptoms that do not subside with typical heartburn medications.

What causes EoE?
The answer is unknown, but there could be genetic traits or environmental factors that cause people to be predisposed. Many with EoE also have seasonal and perennial allergies or a family history of allergies.

 

How common is EoE?
Studies show that the risk of getting EoE, as well as the number of people diagnosed, has increased over time. The first cases of EoE were diagnosed in the 1960s, but like allergies in general, EoE has since been on the rise. It also tends to affect males more often than females.

How is EoE diagnosed?
During a biopsy a small sample of tissue is taken from the esophagus. During the endoscopic procedure, certain features, such as furrows and rings, may visibly indicate its presence. Other conditions can also cause high levels of eosinophils in the esophagus, so other diseases should be ruled out before a diagnosis of EoE is made.

Is diet a factor?
Because of the association between EoE and other allergic conditions, it is reasonable to have food testing done to see if there might be a dietary trigger. Food allergy testing can include skin-prick, blood or patch tests, or a combination of testing. If a food trigger is identified, a change in diet may help reduce the symptoms or allow for a reduction in medication.

How is EoE treated?
There are several ways to treat EoE. If food triggers are found and can be avoided, this may be the only therapy needed. Medications can also be used; the most commonly prescribed medications include stomach acid reducers (commonly called proton pump inhibitors) and corticosteroid sprays (usually used for asthma, but can be modified to be swallowed for patients with EoE). Sometimes, surgery is needed to stretch the esophagus enough to allow more comfortable swallowing.

Contact us if you’re having repeated trouble swallowing — the allergists at Oregon Allergy Associates are here to help.

Tagged in: Trouble swallowing

Dr. Sarah Kehl brings to Oak Street Medical her combined expertise as a board certified allergy/immunology specialist and pediatrician. Warm and approachable, Dr. Kehl tries to put all of her patients at ease.