Blog Post

What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?

Eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE, is a disease that affects the hollow tube that passes food through your esophagus. The esophagus connects to the stomach and is how your food gets from your mouth to your digestive system.

Living with EoE is a problem, especially when you have reflux, and food gets stuck at the most inopportune times. But you don't have to live with EoE without treatment.

At Gateway Gastroenterology, our six expert gastroenterologists provide compassionate care and customized treatments for various stomach and intestinal disorders.

Understanding eosinophilic esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis is an immune disease that affects the esophagus. People with EoE have an abnormal buildup of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell.

The buildup of eosinophils is a reaction to different allergens, foods, and acids in the stomach. It leads to damage in the esophageal tissues, pain, and chronic inflammation.

EoE is uncommon but is a severe problem for those living with it. People who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be suffering from EoE.

Symptoms of EoE

The symptoms of EoE vary by the patient's age. Babies, children, and adults can all have the disease.

Babies and toddlers may have symptoms such as vomiting, difficulty feeding, and poor weight gain. Older kids present with symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, poor appetite, and reflux that don't resolve with medications.

Adults deal with other signs and symptoms related to EoE, varying in severity. Some of the common symptoms that adults experience include the following:

  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Heartburn
  • Food getting stuck in the esophagus
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Chest pain

Reflux related to EoE typically doesn't get better with medications and is accompanied by the above symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms and doctors can't find any other issues, EoE may be the culprit.

Risk factors for EoE

Several risk factors increase your chances of having EoE, including the climate you live in. For example, people living in cold and dry climates are more likely to have EoE than people living in other environments.

Climate isn't the only factor that contributes to EoE; other risk factors for the condition include the following:

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, we will likely diagnose you with EoE in the spring, fall, and summer. The higher pollen counts and allergens in the air during these seasons increase the risk of EoE.

What causes EoE?

Unfortunately, specialists still don't understand the exact cause of EoE, making it harder to manage and diagnose. However, if you have a family history of the disease, it's more likely that you'll have the condition.

Some doctors think that environmental triggers or food allergies may play a role in developing EoE in at-risk individuals.

Genetics and other conditions like GERD or inflammatory bowel conditions might also cause a higher-than-average level of eosinophils in the esophagus, possibly leading to EoE.

Treatments that help EoE

An EoE diagnosis isn't the end of the world; in fact, we can help people successfully using various treatment methods, including:

Diet changes

The team recommends diet changes to help control EoE. Elimination diets are standard and helpful, allowing you to cut out certain foods and slowly add them back to determine what foods are causing your symptoms.


We prescribe steroids for patients with EoE to control the inflammation in the esophagus. The steroids are usually given orally, allowing the medication to contact the inflamed tissues of the esophagus for long-term relief.

Antacid medications

Acid-reducing medications are helpful for patients living with EoE who have uncontrollable reflux. Various options for antacid medicines are available; the team evaluates your needs to determine which remedy is best for you.

If conservative treatments don't control your symptoms, the team may recommend esophageal dilation to help with problems swallowing. It's a minimally invasive procedure that dilates the esophagus to reduce strictures and swallowing difficulties in patients with EoE.

Call Gateway Gastroenterology today to schedule an eosinophilic esophagitis appointment with one of our specialists. Call or message one of our offices. We’re in Chesterfield, St. Louis, and Ballwin, Missouri.