Previously, doctors thought eosinophilic esophagitis symptoms were caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but they now recognize it as a distinct condition with very different causes. Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic reaction in which the lining of your esophagus reacts to allergens, such as food or pollen.
Eosinophils are a normal type of white blood cells present in your digestive tract, but in eosinophilic esophagitis they multiply in your esophagus. The eosinophils produce a protein that causes inflammation, which can lead to scarring, narrowing and formation of excessive fibrous tissue in the lining of your esophagus. As a result, you may have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or have food become stuck when you swallow (impaction), as well as other symptoms.
People with eosinophilic esophagitis may also have food allergies, environmental allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis or chronic respiratory disease. Doctors also think some people are genetically more likely than others to develop eosinophilic esophagitis.
There has been a significant increase in numbers of people diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis in the past decade. At first researchers thought this was due to the increase in awareness among doctors and greater availability of upper endoscopy. However, studies now suggest that the disease is becoming increasingly common, parallel to the increase in asthma and allergy.
June 19, 2014
- Bonus PAL, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 28, 2014.
- Dellon ES, et al. ACG clinical guideline: Evidenced based approach to the diagnosis and management of esophageal eosinophilia and eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2013;108:679.
- Feldman M., et al. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com.Accessed Jan. 18, 2014.
- Liacouras CA, et al. Eosinophilic esophagitis: Updated consensus recommendations for children and adults. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2011;128:3.
- Fell JME. Recognition, assessment and management of eosinophilic oesophagitis. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2013;98:702.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 6, 2014.
- Gorospe EC, et al. New diagnostic and therapeutic frontiers in eosinophilic esophagitis. Minerva gastroenterologica e dietologica. 2013;59:59.
- Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic. Hard to Swallow — EOE. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-edge/. Accessed March 9, 2014.
- Molina-Infante J, et al. Review article: Proton pump inhibitor therapy for suspected eosinophilic oesophagitis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2013;37:1157.
- AskMayoExpert. Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Eosinophilic esophagitis. American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/related-conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis.aspx. Accessed Jan. 28, 2014.
- Alexander JA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March, 2014.
- Hirano I. Dilation in eosinophilic esophagitis: To do or not to do? Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 2010;71:713.
- Lucendo AJ, et al. Empiric 6-food elimination diet induced and maintained prolonged remission in patients with adult eosinophilic esophagitis: A prospective study on the food cause of the disease. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2013;131:797.
- Katzka DA. The skinny on eosinophilic esophagitis. Gastroenterology. 2013;145:1186.
- Hurrell JM, et al. Prevalence of esophageal eosinophilia varies by climate zone in the United States. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012;107:698.
- Dellon ES. Diagnosis and management of eosinophilic esophagitis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2012;10:1066.
- Safe use of complementary health products and practices. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/safety. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Fass R. Alternative therapeutic approaches to chronic proton pump inhibitor. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2012;10:338.
- Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 10, 2012.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2013-2014. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/gastroenterology-and-gi-surgery. Accessed March 9, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.