EoE (eosinophilic oesophagitis) is a chronic inflammation of the oesophagus (also known as gullet or food pipe) which, if left untreated, can cause thickening in the oesophageal lining (the mucosa) and, ultimately, narrowing due to scar tissue formation (known as remodelling). The chronic inflammation and the associated remodelling of the oesophagus can cause difficulties with swallowing solid foods and other related symptoms. Read more…

Symptoms may vary and can also depend on whether the person is an adult or a child. The main symptom in adults is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Sometimes dysphagia is accompanied by pain when swallowing (odynophagia). The symptoms are often less specific in children, ranging from refusal to eat and vomiting, to failure to thrive. You can find a detailed summary of symptoms here.

The diagnosis of EoE must always be made by a specialist (a gastroenterologist). They will take a detailed history and then carry out an endoscopic examination of the oesophagus. A number of small tissue samples (biopsies) will be taken during the procedure and then examined under the microscope by another specialist (a pathologist), who will look specifically for immune cells not normally seen in the lining of the oesophagus. These cells are called eosinophils. You need to speak to your GP if you experience any of the characteristic symptoms or have noticed these symptoms in a family member. They can then refer you to a specialist for further investigations.

EoE is not curable, but there are some effective ways to slow down the progression of the condition as well as treatments that may even reverse some of the inflammatory changes in your oesophagus. Your doctor will discuss the available options with you.

EoE is a chronic condition related to the immune system and cannot be prevented, but it can be controlled with appropriate treatment. We still don’t know exactly how it develops. However, there are some indications that certain inherited gene mutations may increase the risk of developing EoE.

Although there is probably a genetic predisposition to inherit the condition, we don’t know enough yet to be certain whether or not it can be passed on to your children.

Men are three times more likely to develop EoE.3,4

We still don’t know exactly what triggers EoE, but there are strong indications that it is caused by food or airborne allergens (substances that cause an allergic response). There are other factors in the environment that may affect people who are genetically susceptible.

EoE is a rare condition. It is currently estimated to be prevalent in around 1 in 2400 adults and approximately 1 in 3000 children. However, there are large variations in prevalence from country to country.2
Your doctor is a good first port of call for any questions you have about EoE.

You can also visit the national support and patient advocacy organisation, ausEE Inc., a charity dedicated to improving lives affected by eosinophilic disorders, at https://www.ausee.org/

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-other-adverse-reactions/eosinophilic-oesophagitis