Eosinophilic Esophagitis : Symptoms & Diagnosis
Does My Child Have Eosinophilic Esophagitis?
Eosinophilic Esophagitis has only recently been identified as a disease, and many of its symptoms—particularly in children—mimic the symptoms of GERD.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis symptoms may include:
- Problems swallowing (dysphagia)
- Stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Loss of weight
- Food impaction
Patients of different ages tend to experience different symptoms:
- In children, Eosinophilic Esophagitis symptoms are usually similar to those of GERD (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, poor weight gain)
- Adolescents and adults frequently experience difficulty swallowing as well as food impaction
Diagnosing Eosinophilic Esophagitis:
If your doctor suspects that your child has Eosinophilic Esophagitis, he or she will conduct a biopsy of the esophagus. The biopsy is usually done with a procedure called endoscopy, in which a small camera is inserted into the esophagus. Sometimes, the doctor will see rings of eosinophils (white blood cells) in the esophagus—but often it will appear normal.
After the biopsy, the tissue will be inspected for evidence of eosinophils, If an EoE diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will likely conduct allergy testing, looking for food and environmental allergies that contribute to the patient’s EoE.
Typical allergy tests, such as skin prick tests or blood tests (RAST) identify immediate allergic reactions.
However, in Eosinophilic Esophagitis, the allergic reaction builds up over time, so these tests aren’t usually effective in determining the foods that are causing or contributing to the condition. Other tests, such as a skin patch test, may be more useful.
The International Gastrointestinal Eosinophil Researchers (TIGER) is currently in the process of evaluating and developing better clinical and diagnostic methods for determining food and aeroallergens that may be responsible for EoE.
If your child is experience these symptoms discuss them with your family doctor or find a pediatric gastroenterologist near you.