Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

When you have an allergy to food or something in the environment, your immune system produces white blood cells called eosinophils. A build-up of these cells in the lining of the esophagus causes the inflammatory response known as eosinophilic esophagitis.

The incidence of eosinophilic esophagitis is increasing along with asthma and other allergic conditions.

Diagnosing eosinophilic esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is diagnosed by means of an upper endoscopy to observe the inflammation and obtain a biopsy of esophageal tissue.

While you are sedated, an endoscope (tiny, lighted camera on the end of a flexible tube) is inserted into your throat. Forceps (tiny tweezers) may be used to sample esophageal tissue. A pathologist will examine this tissue to determine if the cells are abnormal.

Additional testing may be conducted to determine the severity and the source of the allergic reaction. Those tests may include:

  • Blood test: Lab tests can determine the extent of your allergic reaction.
  • Medication trial: You may be asked to take anti-reflux medication for a particular length of time, followed by an endoscopy, to see if the inflammation improves.
  • Elimination diet: You refrain from eating foods that are common irritants and reintroduce them one at a time to determine what is causing the irritation.
  • Patch test: Samples of various types of food are placed on your skin to see which of them causes a reaction.