We all know the common signs of seasonal allergies, like stuffy nose, headache, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing. But there’s a less common ailment that is associated with the change in season that affects an unlikely area of the body. The disease is called eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE for short, and is known to wreak havoc on your digestive system. EoE is often misdiagnosed or confused with a better known GI disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but it stems from a different cause and has a different method of treatment.
EoE is an allergy related disorder that affects the lining of the esophagus and usually occurs with the change of seasons and a higher pollen count in the spring. Doctors aren’t positive what actually causes it, but all information points to the fact that it can be caused by both environmental and genetic factors, hence the rise of the disease in the spring. The symptoms can be broad but most often include difficulty swallowing, chest and abdominal pain, heartburn, food impaction (when food gets stuck in the esophagus), vomiting or regurgitation, and failure to thrive in children. Those who are affected by EoE have an abundance of eosinophil cells in their esophagus, which produce a protein that causes inflammation and scarring. Although the cells are normal and naturally occurring in parts of the body, it’s the location and abundance of them that can trigger the illness and be the difference between someone who is affected by EoE and someone who isn’t.
If you find yourself experiencing the above-described symptoms, it’s time to contact Carolina Digestive Health Associates to schedule an appointment. It could be GERD, which presents with similar symptoms, but if you see an increase in your discomfort in the spring and summer and have no luck with over the counter antacids, it could be EoE. Once GERD is ruled out, our doctors can perform an endoscopy and culture to check for the presence of the eosinophil cells. Since EoE is a chronic condition, doctors often recommend a combination of medication and dietary changes depending on the individual patient. Our endoscopy centers provide you with the best outpatient care, making the procedure as comfortable as possible and sending you back home as soon as we can.