Overview

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is characterized by a large number of a certain type of white blood cell (eosinophil) in the esophagus. The eosinophil causes inflammation and can cause a thickening or stiffening of the esophagus.

Causes

While the exact cause is not known, some studies suggest an allergy to food or something in the environment. Approximately 70% of people with EoE have a history of allergic conditions. There may also be a genetic component since EoE is seen in family groups. It is diagnosed both in children and adults.

Symptoms

Difficulty swallowing solid food and food impactions are the primary symptoms of EoE. Other symptoms include heartburn and chest pain.

Screening and Diagnosis

An upper endoscopy is used to diagnose EoE. Small biopsies are taken to check for the presence of eosinophils. The doctor viewing the esophagus can also see linear rows and creases.

Treatment

Twenty years ago, EoE was relatively rare, but this diagnosis is becoming more and more common. To date, there is not a standard accepted treatment for EoE. Elimination diets and medications are common courses of treatment.