First Time User? Enroll now.
Notice of Data Security Incident
COVID-19: Vaccine information and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers
Home > Health Library > Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Esophagitis (say "ee-sof-uh-JY-tus") is irritation or inflammation the esophagus. This is the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach. In eosinophilic (say "ee-uh-sin-uh-FILL-ick") esophagitis, the irritation is caused by white blood cells called eosinophils in the esophagus.
This condition is called "EoE" for short.
Eosinophils aren't normally in the esophagus. They are part of the immune system. The body sends them out in response to an allergic reaction. This has led experts to think that allergies—especially food allergies—may cause EoE. People who have EoE often have other types of allergies too, like hay fever, eczema, or asthma.
EoE can occur in both children and adults. It's more common in males than in females. It may run in families.
In adults, the symptoms include:
In children, common symptoms include:
To diagnose EoE, a doctor will ask about your symptoms. The doctor will also do an endoscopy. For this test, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube down your throat to look at your esophagus. During the test, the doctor will take small tissue samples, or biopsies, from your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The tissue samples are sent to a lab. At the lab, the samples are looked at under a microscope.
You may be asked to take medicine for acid reflux for 2 months before your endoscopy. This will help the doctor find out if gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is causing your symptoms.
EoE is usually diagnosed and treated by a specialist called a gastroenterologist.
If you are diagnosed with EoE, you may want to see an allergist. This type of doctor can do tests to find what foods you're allergic to.
Changing your diet is usually the first step in treating EoE. If you have been tested and know your food allergens, you can simply avoid those foods. If not, your doctor may suggest one of these diets.
After some time, you would add back one group of allergy-causing foods at a time. This is a way to identify which foods you are allergic to. Then you can avoid them in the future.
If you try one of these diets, it's best to work with a dietitian. The dietitian can help make sure that you are getting the nutrients you need to be healthy.
Medicines are also used to treat EoE. The most common ones are:
Sometimes, EoE causes narrowing of the esophagus. This makes it hard to swallow food. If medicine or diet changes don't relieve the problem, it can be treated with a procedure called dilation. This may be done during endoscopy. During dilation, the doctor guides a balloon or plastic dilator down your throat and into your esophagus. When the device is expanded, it widens any narrow areas of your esophagus. Your doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of this treatment.
Current as of:
February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicinePeter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of: February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.