Eosinophilic gastroenteritis is a rare disease in children and adults characterized by food-related reactions and infiltration of certain white blood cells (eosinophils) in the gastrointestinal system and blood. Although the exact function of eosinophils is unknown, these cells are associated with allergic-type responses and play a role in the body’s immune response by releasing toxins.
The symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, skin rash, acid reflux, anemia, choking, and occasionally diarrhea. The diagnosis is confirmed by an endoscopy and biopsy of the area of the gastrointestinal tract being evaluated. The biopsy is then reviewed by a pathologist to determine the level of eosinophils in the tissue sample. A high number of eosinophils in the tissue biopsy suggests a diagnosis of eosinophilic gastroenteritis, which is further evaluated by the medical provider.
Treatment of eosinophilic disorders are dependent on the location of the eosinophils, symptom severity, and consideration of other medical conditions. Dietary restrictions and medications are commonly used in the treatment of eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Individuals often undergo food allergy testing to determine the foods that are triggering the increase in eosinophils, this is then used as a guide for restriction or elimination diets. Many cases require topical steroids (budesonide and other inhalers) or systematic corticosteroids (such as Prednisone) to induce remission. Acid suppressors, or proton pump inhibitors (PPI's), may be used to help relieve associated reflux symptoms.
Eosinophilic gastroenteritis, as well as eosinophilic esophagitis (which occurs in the esophagus), and eosinophilic colitis (which occurs in the colon) make up a group of disorders called eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders. Various symptoms may occur depending upon the portion of the GI system affected.
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