What is eosinophilic esophagitis?

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. 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 have 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 which is causing the eosinophils to go to the esophagus without knowing it. Over time they develop enough inflammation that patients start to exhibit symptoms.

What causes eosinophilic esophagitis?

The main cause of eosinophilic esophagitis is an allergic reaction to food. No certain food seems to be to blame, but it is likely caused by the typical 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.

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