Understanding Eosinophilic Esophagitis: The Food Allergy That Prevents Swallowing Food
If you are experiencing trouble swallowing certain foods, then you may suffer from a newly discovered food allergy known as eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE is a serious food allergy that can easily be diagnosed and treated. Additionally, if you avoid the foods that cause you to react negatively, then you can help to prevent future attacks.
Basics of the Allergic Esophagus
Your esophagus contains specialized white blood cells known as eosinophils. When the level of eosinophils in your esophagus becomes abnormally high, then the blood cells wage a war on your gastrointestinal system. This attack can lead to problems with swallowing the food you eat. It can also cause vomiting and discomfort similar to heartburn. In severe cases, EoE can be so severe that it requires immediate emergency medical intervention to retrieve food wedged into the esophagus.
Diagnosing the Allergic Esophagus
If your allergy specialist believes that you may be suffering from EoE, then they will refer you to a gastrointestinal specialist who will perform an endoscopy. During the endoscopy procedure, your throat will be numbed and a small camera will be placed down your throat and into your stomach. The endoscope contains a small attachment that allows it to take small biopsy samples of your esophagus's tissue. These samples can then be examined in a laboratory to definitively determine if you have EoE.
Note: While endoscopy procedures are never fun, the procedure really isn't as bad as it sounds like it will be. The numbing medication will take away both any sensations in your throat and your gag reflex, making the test a breeze.
Treating and Preventing the Allergic Esophagus
The only treatment currently on the market for EoE is inhalant medications. These medications help to lower the number of eosinophils in the esophagus tissue, and they also help to reduce inflammation.
The absolute best thing that you can do if you suffer from EoE is to avoid the foods that cause your allergic reaction. Avoiding trigger foods will block flare-ups of EoE from happening and help to keep you safe from choking. This will prevent the need for you to obtain costly emergency medical intervention.
Both food allergies and gastrointestinal system problems can be hard to troubleshoot and diagnose. By working together with your allergy specialist like Diane L. Ozog, MD, SC, you can get to the bottom of your food swallowing condition once and for all.