Eosinophilic esophagitis or EoE is a condition that’s only recently started to be recognized. If EoE is causing your child’s eating problems, you need expert help from Ahmet Aybar, MD, of Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Aybar is a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in treating children and young adults who have gastrointestinal conditions such as EoE. Call Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis Q & A
What is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?
Eosinophilic esophagitis or EoE is a condition that affects the esophagus (windpipe), causing chronic inflammation.
It’s not known what causes EoE, but it develops because of an allergic reaction. This causes different types of cells to react to an allergen and produce symptoms such as:
One of the cells causing this allergic reaction is called an eosinophil, which plays an important role in your child’s immune system. Eosinophils are circulating in your blood and intestine, where, among other things, they tackle parasites.
If the number of eosinophils increases and they start showing up in other parts of your child’s body, they can trigger the allergic reaction that results in EoE.
For example, eosinophils in the nose cause hay fever, and in the lungs, they cause asthma. When your child has high levels of eosinophils in their esophagus, it causes EoE.
What are the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis?
Children who have EoE experience symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent gagging
- Reluctance to eat
- Fussiness with food
- Problems sleeping
Your child might complain that they feel like something is sticking in their throat, a symptom called dysphagia. Sometimes food does get lodged in the throat, and your child can’t cough it up, which is called impaction.
Left untreated, EoE can cause scarring that results in a narrowing of the esophagus.
How is eosinophilic esophagitis diagnosed?
EoE causes similar symptoms to acid reflux, so Dr. Aybar at Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition could prescribe an acid blocker or proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication.
If acid reflux is the cause, your child’s symptoms should improve. If your child has EoE, their symptoms won’t improve, which would help rule out acid reflux as a cause.
An esophageal biopsy is the only way for Dr. Aybar to diagnose EoE with certainty. This involves using an endoscope, a technologically advanced instrument fitted with a light and a camera that sends back images of the inside of your child’s esophagus. Dr. Aybar then takes a tissue sample for testing in the lab.
How is eosinophilic esophagitis treated?
The underlying cause of most cases of EoE is a food allergy. The foods most often responsible for triggering this allergic reaction include:
Your child might be allergic to one of these foods, or another type of food, or even have an allergy to several different foods.
It’s not always possible to find out which is causing your child’s EoE using an allergy test, so they might need to go onto a bland formula product. These can also help heal their esophagus.
After one to three months, Dr. Aybar starts to reintroduce foods to see which provokes an immune system response.
What treatments are there for EoE?
Medications such as corticosteroids can help reduce the inflammation in your child’s esophagus. If the treatment stops, the symptoms do return, but unfortunately, these medicines aren’t suitable for long-term use.
Dr. Aybar specializes in using nutrition to treat the causes of many gastrointestinal conditions. Diet modifications and changing some of the eating habits your child has are often highly effective in minimizing the effects of EoE.
If your child has symptoms of EoE, get the expert help you need at Annapolis Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition by calling today or booking an appointment online.