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Eosinophilic [ee-uh-sin-uh-FIL-ik] esophagitis [ih-SOF-uh-JAHY-tis], or EE, is an allergic reaction that causes inflammation (swelling) in the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube going from your mouth to your stomach. The inflammation can make the esophagus become more narrow and stiff. This can make swallowing difficult and cause food to get caught in your esophagus.
EE is becoming more commonly diagnosed in both children and adults. It’s a chronic condition, meaning it doesn’t go away completely.
If EE is not treated or your symptoms are not controlled well, you may have other health problems. These can include narrowed areas in your esophagus where food can get stuck. In rare cases, this can cause forceful vomiting. Also, repeated dilations may cause a tear of the esophagus, which would need medical attention right away.
The most common symptoms of EE are difficulty swallowing and pain when swallowing solid foods. Other symptoms include:
Contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Get emergency care if you have:
People with EE have more eosinophils (a certain type of white blood cell) in their esophagus. The reason this happens isn’t exactly known. Most research suggests that it’s because of an allergic reaction to certain types of proteins found in some foods. Many people with EE also have a family history of other allergic reactions like asthma, runny nose, skin rash, or food allergies.
The only way to know for certain if your symptoms are caused by EE is to do an endoscopy. During endoscopy [en-DOS-kuh-pee] the doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a light (an endoscope) into the esophagus. This allows the doctor to see inside and to take tissue samples (biopsies). The tissue samples can be tested for eosinophils and other signs of EE.
EE treatment is focused on controlling symptoms and preventing other problems. Symptoms can be controlled, but may return from time to time. Your doctor may recommend one or more of these things:
We don’t know the exact causes of esophagitis, however good tips to help reduce your risk include avoiding irritating foods and taking medications only as directed.