Well, it is time for this aussie allergy mum to tackle the topic of eosinophilic oesophagitus (EoE), a rare but horrible disease. It belongs to a group of allergic conditions known as eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGIDs).
Miss 4 is suspected of having this condition, however it is as yet unconfirmed.
Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell, associated with allergic conditions. They are present in larger than normal amounts in conditions like hayfever and asthma.
For a group of people out there, an ever-growing group, these cells are turning up in places they shouldn’t be, or in amounts that shouldn’t be. And this causes awful symptoms and reactions.
EoE occurs when these cells are in the oesophagus. The inflammation they create causes symptoms such as feeling like food is stuck, choking, pain like heartburn and severe acid reflux. Symptoms can also include nausea and vomiting.
Other EGIDs occur in different parts of the gut, and again are caused by too many eosinophils. They are characterised by pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea generally.
So how are these diseases diagnosed?
The official diagnosis is by a biopsy of the effected area, done by scope. The specialist who diagnoses and treats the condition is a gastroenterologist. Often they work in conjunction with an immunologist due to the allergic nature of the disease and the need to try and identify triggers. (At this point we have made the decision not to go ahead with biopsies for Miss 4 as she is currently medicated the same way she would be if she had EoE anyway. Once she is a little older we will re-evaluate this with her doctors.)
So let’s talk about what triggers a reaction in these diseases…
For a large group, symptoms are triggered by allergies, either environmental or food. Environmental allergens include pollens and molds and can be hard to identify and very hard to avoid. Food allergens are commonly triggers, and a process to identify the foods at fault is undertaken.
So let’s talk about treatment…
Treatment falls under two general categories
- medication- this is generally oral medication used to decrease inflammation and acid, and help control symptoms
- food elimination- this is a process of trying to work out and then avoid the foods that trigger reactions, and then follow up biopsies to see if the condition has eased
Until recently these conditions were unheard of and rarely diagnosed. But incidence is on the rise and a great deal of research is currently being undertaken into the mechanisms of the disease and treatment options.
Here at Aussie Allergy Mum, we hope that very soon doctors will understand this condition much better and be able to improve the life of these patients considerably with this knowledge.
Please reach out for more info!