My husband, my father-in-law (a doctor) and I have been trying to manage next steps in what appears to a forthcoming EoE diagnosis. Ironic, considering last week was EoE Awareness Week, eh?!
So, what is EoE?
According to GIKids.org, Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) is an inflammation of the esophagus. The wall of the esophagus becomes swollen with white blood cells called eosinophils. A person with EoE might experience trouble swallowing, pain, heartburn, nausea, regurgitation or vomiting. They may note mild symptoms like heartburn or more severe ones like the feeling that they are choking. It’s a relatively new diagnosis that doctors are still struggling to learn more about.
This emerging health issue for my food allergic son has been brewing for at least the past year, growing steadily worse and more frequent each month. Originally appearing to be a classic case of acid reflux, my husband and I tried everything suggested to reduce his discomfort. We raised his head at night, tried to feed him earlier in the evening so that he had time to digest, stayed away from acidic foods as much as possible, and gave him acid reducing medication as directed by his pediatrician. However, his symptoms seemed resistant to medicine and relatively unphased by our other efforts. And, other symptoms were muddied with his food allergies and asthma. My son would complain of burning in the lower part of his throat. He began wheezing within only a few minutes of laying down at night. He began complaining of pain (actual pain) in his stomach. His throat felt “weird” after having dairy (to which he’s no longer allergic, but that symptom is always scary to food allergy parents!). And, started articulating a sensation that finally rang my alarm bells on EoE: he felt like he had something stuck in his throat.
We immediately went back to the pediatrician who ruled out a number of conditions like celiac disease and quickly thereafter booked an appointment with a pediatric gastroenterologist. One Upper GI (where they watch barium travel down your esophagus and into the stomach via x-ray) and one Upper Endoscopy later and we’re only a *little* closer to figuring this thing out. EoE is more common in patients with food allergies and other allergic diseases (like asthma) and far more common in males than females – although the connections aren’t clear.
While his doctors rule out causes, his symptoms persist and we have more endoscopies, food challenges and allergy tests (I almost can’t believe it) on the horizon. I’m certain many of you have already gone through this cycle of testing and I would love to hear your experiences and any advice you have to offer.