Eosinophilic esophagitis (E-o-sin-o-fill-ik E-sof-uh-Jeye-tis) or EOE is caused by an abnormal immune response in the esophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
This causes large numbers of immune cells called eosinophils to collect in the esophagus. Too many of these immune cells in any one area of the body can cause chronic allergic inflammation — or type 2 inflammation.
Over time, consistently high numbers of these immune cells and type 2 inflammation can cause tissue damage and scarring. In the case of EOE, this tissue damage occurs in the esophagus.
Symptoms of EOE?
This inflammation and tissue damage in the esophagus can trigger symptoms that include:
What causes EOE?
There are many causes of EOE. These include persistent acid reflux and airborne or seasonal allergies, as well as food allergies. In fact, people with allergies, atopic dermatitis (a skin condition that causes dry, itchy inflamed skin), and asthma are at greater risk of developing EOE. What these conditions all have in common: they are all triggered by type 2 inflammation.
Type 2 inflammation is chronic inflammation, which means it’s always present in the body. This type of chronic inflammation can cause damage to the body, including to tissues in the body. It also tends to run in families.
Long-term effects of EOE?
This exaggerated immune response can, over time, cause the esophagus to narrow permanently, making it difficult to swallow and digest food.
While there is no cure for EOE, treatments, including ones called biologics, are available.