GIA Confronts Diagnosis Issues With Eosinophilic Esophagitis

The increasing prevalence of eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) has presented gastroenterologists with this decade’s major challenge for diagnosis.

EE is sometimes confused with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) because the symptoms of the diseases are so similar.

EE has been detected in all ages and on every continent, except Africa. Our team here at Gastrointestinal Associates (GIA) is familiar with the latest research on EE and has experience treating the disease.

People that are most at risk for EE are white males in their late 30s. Women and children are less susceptible but still can suffer from the condition. If your family has a history of allergy conditions, you are more likely to develop the disease.

EE is perhaps caused by an allergic reaction to food, chemicals or airborne particles. White blood cells called eosinophils build up in the esophagus as a response to the allergens. This reaction causes irritation and inflammation in the throat.

Some of the symptoms linked with EE are difficulty swallowing, typical GERD symptoms like heartburn, and food sticking in the esophagus. If traditional methods of GERD treatment have failed, you should ask your doctor about EE. Children may have abdominal pain, vomiting or regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, GERD-like symptoms, or an aversion to solid foods.

Right now, we have multiple ways to detect or diagnose EE. As mentioned, EE will not respond to the high-dose acid suppression therapy commonly used to treat GERD. A study of the pH level in the esophagus can also rule out reflux.

EE is best confirmed by an esophageal biopsy, a routine procedure that allows us to measure the eosinophil count in the esophageal tissue. Another way to detect EE is through an endoscopy, which uses a camera to search for the ring-like appearance of the esophagus associated with EE. But it is possible for patients with EE to have a normal endoscopy, so endoscopy with biopsy are key to the diagnosis.

Once EE is confirmed, we offer two treatment options. Topical steroids are usually an effective way to treat EE when used over the course of six to eight weeks. The second way is esophageal dilation. Esophageal dilation refers to the passage of small, specially designed rubber tubes (dilators) down the esophagus to stretch the narrowed esophagus.

At GIA, we are confident in our ability to identify EE and provide you with minimal risk treatment. Our team of specially trained physicians is equipped to give our patients the latest and most effective care available.