Eosinophilic Esophagitis

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder Anand, MD
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What are the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis?

The major symptom in adults with eosinophilic esophagitis is difficulty in swallowing solid food (dysphagia). Specifically, the food becomes stuck in the esophagus after it is swallowed.

Less common symptoms include heartburn and chest pain.

In children, the most common symptoms are

How does eosinophilic esophagitis cause dysphagia?

Eosinophilic esophagitis decreases the ability of the esophagus to stretch and accommodate mouthfuls of swallowed food probably as a result of the presence of so many eosinophils but also, perhaps as a result of some scaring that occurs in the wall of the esophagus. As a result, solid foods (particularly solid meats) have difficulty passing through the esophagus. When solid food sticks in the esophagus, it causes an uncomfortable sensation in the chest, The sticking of food in the esophagus is referred to as dysphagia. If the solid food then passes into the stomach, the discomfort subsides, and the individual can resume eating. If the solid food does not pass into the stomach, individuals often must regurgitate the food by inducing vomiting before they can resume eating. Rarely, the solid food becomes impacted, that is, it can neither pass into the stomach nor be regurgitated. The impacted solid food causes chest pain that can mimic a heart attack, and repeated spitting up of saliva that cannot be swallowed because of the obstruction in the esophagus. Individuals with impacted food are unable to eat or drink. To relieve the obstruction, a doctor usually will have to insert a flexible endoscope through the mouth and into the esophagus to remove the impacted food.

How eosinophilic esophagitis causes symptoms of abdominal pain, vomiting, and failure to thrive in children is not clear.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2016

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