When you come to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, we’ll listen to your needs, diagnose what’s wrong and work with you to select a treatment plan to improve your life. This is especially important for people who may be experiencing a condition that can be confused with another.

People who are experiencing trouble swallowing or chest pain but don’t get better with acid reflux medication should turn to the experts at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center for a definitive diagnosis and customized treatment plan for what could be eosinophilic esophagitis. Our experts will walk you through:

  • Ruling out acid reflux to arrive at a diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Allergy food testing to provide dietary change recommendations
  • Medication such as steroids

And if your needs are more advanced, we can handle that, too. Severe cases of eosinophilic esophagitis can be aided by esophageal dilation, which stretches the esophagus. Remember, you’ll have direct access to medical expertise from across the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, including our world-renowned cancer experts at the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

What is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

Eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic reaction to food during which certain white blood cells in the throat get inflamed and make it hard to swallow food. This condition’s symptoms are identical to gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux. However, acid reflux medication won’t help someone who has EoE.

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections and play a role in your body’s immune response. In the case of eosinophilic esophagitis, the eosinophils build up and cause inflammation. In severe cases, the esophagus is nearly swollen shut.

Normally your blood doesn’t contain a large number of eosinophils. Your body may produce more of them in response to an allergic reaction. Patients suffering from eosinophilic esophagitis may be eating food that’s causing the eosinophils to go to the esophagus without knowing it. Over time they develop enough inflammation that patients start to exhibit symptoms.

People who have environmental allergies, asthma, eczema or atopic dermatitis are more likely to also have EoE.

What causes eosinophilic esophagitis?

The main cause of eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic reaction to food. No particular food seems to be at blame, but it’s often caused by dairy, wheat, egg, soy, nuts and fish allergies.

Eosinophilic esophagitis may be linked to allergens in the air and conditions like asthma. Environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mold and animals could also play a role.

Eosinophilic esophagitis signs and symptoms

The symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis are identical to acid reflux and include trouble swallowing, chest and upper abdominal pain, heartburn and food getting stuck in your throat — which is a medical emergency and should be treated as such.

Eosinophilic esophagitis treatment

Treating eosinophilic esophagitis requires collaboration between your allergist and a gastroenterologist. Such collaboration of care is a hallmark benefit of seeking care at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Your team may suggest food allergy testing to provide recommendations for dietary changes. While no specific medication can cure EoE, certain acid reducers and proton pump inhibitors can help reduce the redness and swelling in your esophagus.

In severe cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to stretch or dilate your esophagus if it has narrowed.

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